Women love baseball. Always have, always will. Just ask Katie Casey.
I know, I know—most people, even die-hard baseball fans—have never heard of Katie Casey. But the song that introduced her to the world remains ubiquitous, even 109 years after its creation.
Yes, friends, Katie Casey is the heroine of the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” We don’t know about her because we never sing the verses of the song, only its chorus. For the record, then, here are the original lyrics (now out of copyright), by songwriter and vaudevillian Jack Norworth:
Katie Casey was baseball mad,
Had the fever and had it bad.
Just to root for the home town crew,
On a Saturday her young beau
Called to see if she’d like to go
To see a show, but Miss Kate said “No,
I’ll tell you what you can do:”
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.
Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names.
Told the umpire he was wrong,
Good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:
Women love baseball, then and now
We tend to think of Edwardian era women as all buns and corsets. But enough of them spoke their minds, even back then. Women participated in the 1908 Democratic Convention that summer, even though only a few states had granted them the right to vote. Earlier in the year, 15,000 women garment workers marched through the streets of New York City, demanding political rights and economic justice. That was March 8th, the day we now commemorate as International Women’s Day.
So the idea of a woman speaking her mind and demanding that her beau take her to the ballgame rather than the theatre—well, it probably amused audiences in 1908 but her outspokenness wouldn’t have come out of left field.
I’m not surprised baseball embraced the chorus of the song. It’s an anthem of consumerism: Buy a ticket. Spend lots of money on the concessions. But I am surprised at how thoroughly Katie Casey has disappeared.
Not just because women love baseball. Although—news flash—we do. And not just because male-dominated society always finds a way to make women invisible.
But why in over 100 years has no one has thought about how odd the lyrics are if the “me” in the song is the guy in the stands singing it:
“Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack”
Just who’s doing the buying here? And why are you, red-blooded American male baseball fan, incapable of buying your own?
There’s more to say about this song, and the men who wrote it. But I can’t say it now. Gotta run—I’m going to the ballgame.