Even though he never played a game, Jack Norworth contributed a great deal to the game of baseball. On this day in 1940, the Brooklyn Dodgers honored him at Ebbets Field.
Chances are, the names Jack Norworth and Albert von Tilzer would not come immediately to mind when thinking about baseball. Yet, even without playing a game, the duo made an incredible contribution to baseball. Back in 1908, Norworth and Von Tilzer created the iconic song ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame,’ with Norworth writing the music and Von Tilzer contributing the lyrics.
Interestingly enough, at the time that they wrote the song, neither person had seen a baseball game. One of the most popular songs of its time, and a tune that would connect generations, was written by two songwriters that had not watched a single inning of baseball. It almost boggles the mind.
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On this day in 1940, the Brooklyn Dodgers sought to change that. They celebrated Jack Norworth Day at Ebbets Field, honoring the great lyricist for his contribution to the game. Fitting with the lyrics of the song, the Dodgers battled back to win 5-4, with Joe Vosmik‘s eighth inning sacrifice fly making the difference.
While that song may be Norworth’s most enduring legacy, it was not his only hit. He was a Vaudeville performer, and spent time with the Zeigfeld Follies, a popular revue company through the 1920s. His song, ‘Shine On, Harvest Moon,’ was actually a bigger hit at the time that ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ debuted. ‘Good Evening, Caroline’ and ‘Back to My Old Home Town’ were amongst the many hits that Norworth wrote during his long career.
These days, the song is typically associated with Harry Caray and the Chicago Cubs. He began a tradition of singing the song during the seventh inning stretch, a tradition that continues to this day. It makes one wonder how Norworth would feel knowing that his homage to a game he had never seen would remain in vogue to the current day.