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'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' to be preserved

Library of Congress deems baseball 'anthem' culturally significant

By Matt Weber / MLB.com

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 7:28 AM CT

Harry Caray "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," the traditional sing-along anthem that pays homage to a day at the ballpark during seventh-inning stretches across the Major Leagues, received a high honor on Wednesday.

The 1908 tune will be preserved at the Library of Congress, along with 24 other recordings chosen for their cultural significance, the library announced.

The library annually selects 25 recordings that are deemed to be "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" to be preserved, and digitizes the recordings for long-term preservation. A recording must be at least 10 years old to qualify.

Other recordings selected include Tammy Wynette's 1968 hit "Stand By Your Man" and Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" from 1971. Performances by Nat King Cole, Les Paul, Blind Willie Johnson and Steely Dan also made the list, while hip-hip trio De La Soul's 1993 debut album "3 Feet High and Rising," was among the newer selections.

The first recording of contemporary stand-up comedy, an unauthorized recording of comedian Mort Sahl from 1955, a sermon from Aretha Franklin's father and Henry Mancini's theme for 1950s television detective drama "Peter Gunn" were also selected.

"Songs, words and the natural sounds of the world that we live in have been captured on one of the most perishable of all of our art media," said James H. Billington, librarian of congress

"Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was written by vaudeville star Jack Norworth, who was inspired by seeing an advertisement for baseball at the Polo Grounds, home of the New York Giants, while on a subway. The words were set to music by Albert Von Tilzer and the song was originally performed by singer Edward Meeker. Neither Norworth nor Von Tilzer had attended a baseball game, and neither did so for another three decades.

Late Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray's rendition of the tune became synonymous with afternoons at Chicago's Wrigley Field, as he would sing parts of the tune and hold his microphone out to fans to sing the others.

Caray's first public performance came as a surprise to the Chicago legend. Broadcasting for the White Sox, Caray would sing the tune in the radio booth during every seventh-inning stretch, and one day, WMAQ radio producer and broadcaster Jay Scott decided to open the booth microphones without Caray's knowledge. The song was played on an organ at Caray's funeral in 1998.

Celebrities and other prominent figures have continued Caray's tradition of singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" to the crowd during each game at Wrigley Field. The Library of Congress called the song the "unofficial national anthem of America's national pastime."

The ninth-annual National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress selections:

1. Phonautograms, Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (circa 1853-1861)
2. "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," Edward Meeker, accompanied by the Edison Orchestra (1908)
3. Cylinder Recordings of Ishi (1911-14)
4. "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground," Blind Willie Johnson (1927)
5. "It's the Girl," The Boswell Sisters with the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra (1931)
6. "Mal Hombre," Lydia Mendoza (1934)
7. "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," The Sons of the Pioneers (1934)
8. "Talking Union," The Almanac Singers (1941)
9. "Jazz at the Philharmonic," (July 2, 1944)
10. "Pope Marcellus Mass" (Palestrina), The Roger Wagner Chorale (1951)
11. "The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest," The Rev. C. L. Franklin (1953)
12. "Tipitina," Professor Longhair (1953)
13. "At Sunset," Mort Sahl (1955)
14. Interviews with jazz musicians for the Voice of America, Willis Conover (1956)
15. "The Music From 'Peter Gunn,'" Henry Mancini (1959)
16. United Sacred Harp Musical Convention in Fyffe, Ala., field recordings by Alan Lomax and Shirley Collins (1959)
17. "Blind Joe Death," John Fahey (1959, 1964, 1967)
18. "Stand By Your Man," Tammy Wynette (1968)
19. "Trout Mask Replica," Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band (1969)
20. "Songs of the Humpback Whale" (1970)
21. "Let's Stay Together," Al Green (1971)
22. "Black Angels (Thirteen Images from the Dark Land)," George Crumb, CRI Recordings (1972)
23. "Aja," Steely Dan (1977)
24. "3 Feet High and Rising," De La Soul (1989)
25. GOPAC strategy and instructional tapes (1986-1994)

Matt Weber is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.