July 15, 2014

Every kid in America '€“ and many more all over the world '€“ can sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." But few baseball fans (even those in Orange County) are aware that the man responsible for the words of that song is buried within eyeshot of Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

Four years ago, after I pointed out in one of my books that little had been done to honor Jack Norworth '€“ a man who is nothing short of the Francis Scott Key of our National Pastime '€“ a small group of fans sprung up, led by a man named JP Myers. The group" organized on Facebook and raised money to put up a monument to this man, and cleaned up a long neglected gravesite.

Jack Norworth had never even been to a baseball game when he wrote the song, which today trails only behind the National Anthem and '€œHappy Birthday,'€ as the most popular tune in American History.

It'€™s been recorded by more than 400 artists and used in more than 1,200 movies and TV shows.

As for the inspiration, Norworth saw an ad while riding a New York subway in 1908'€”an ad advertising a game at the Polo Grounds, where the New York Giants once played. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Jack Norworth didn't even attend a major league game until 1940, 32 years after the song was written. And though he wasn'€™t much of a fan when he wrote the famous lyrics, he eventually embraced the game and helped promote it to perhaps the game'€™s most valuable players'€”the kids.

After moving to Laguna Beach in the 1940s, Norworth soon helped organize the very first Little League in the city." 

In 1959, Cracker Jack presented Norworth with a trophy at a Dodgers game and today, that very same '€œJack Norworth trophy'€ is presented to the team that comes in first each season. As another tribute to the song, each player gets a box of Cracker Jacks on Opening Day.

Certainly, Jack Norworth enjoyed the simple pleasure of a day at the ballpark. He was just a little slow in taking the cue from his classic song. And America was a little slow in appreciating what this man gave us.

But in Anaheim, at Melrose Abbey Cemetery, that has changed'€”all thanks to some fans who wanted to honor the man who gave us a timeless classic.

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