Grammar Moses: What would Harry sing?

 
 
Updated 10/12/2019 4:31 PM

I had planned to discuss this burning issue while the Cubs were still in the throes of the postseason, but I guess it will have to serve as something to chew on over the long, cold, pennant-less winter.

I know this discussion will give at least two of you some comfort.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Any thoughts on how 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' is sung in the 7th inning at Wrigley Field?" wrote reader George Luck. "Take me out 'to the crowd' or 'with the crowd'? And I don't care if I 'ever get back' or 'never get back'?

Doris Aussin chimed in: "A friend asked me the other night if I would sing 'take me out to the crowd' or 'take me out with the crowd.' I immediately said 'to.' She said 'with.' She looked it up and the lyric is 'with.' That does not make sense to me. What do you think?"

When Jack Norworth penned the lyrics (he scribbled them on an envelope) it was just weeks into the Cubs' 1908 season, and you all know what happened that year.

While the Cubs schooled the rest of the league that year, Norworth had never seen a baseball game, according to the Library of Congress.

We sing only his song's chorus. The full song tells the story of a baseball-crazed girl named Katie Casey who begs her beau to take her to a ballgame instead of a show.

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Here is the official chorus:

Take me out to the ball game,

Take me out with the crowd;

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,

I don't care if I never get back.

Let me root, root, root for the home team,

If they don't win, it's a shame.

For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,

At the old ball game.

If your question is how I would sing the song, I would follow the lyrics.

If the question is whether I would have written the song differently, well, I'm not about to get between a man and his lyrics. That's hard work.

How would it sound if Mick Jagger were to sing "I can't get any satisfaction."? Or if Bob Dylan were to sing "Lie, lady, lie, lie across my big brass bed."?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The mood of "Take Me Out" can be interpreted in different ways, as can the words Norworth used help shape those interpretations. While Mick and Bob clearly wrote grammatically incorrect lyrics, I see nothing wrong with Norworth's, and his ditty is a lot more popular than any Rolling Stones song.

Again, according to the Library of Congress, Norworth's song wasn't an instant hit. It is believed to have been first sung at a high school game in 1934 -- 26 years after it was written -- and sung later that year at the World Series.

It would be six years later that Norworth would finally see his first big-league game.

Write carefully!

• Jim Baumann is vice president/managing editor of the Daily Herald. Write him at jbaumann@dailyherald.com. Put Grammar Moses in the subject line. You also can friend or follow Jim at facebook.com/baumannjim.

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