cover image Take Me Out to the Ball Game: The Sensational Baseball Song

Take Me Out to the Ball Game: The Sensational Baseball Song

Jim Burke, , illus. by Jim Burke. . Little, Brown, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-75819-2

Pete Hamill's engaging introduction to this ebullient volume recalls the pivotal role baseball played in many Americans' lives in the early 20th century (pre-TV and even radio), including those living near Manhattan's legendary Polo Grounds. In Burke's (My Brothers' Flying Machine ) stunning, realistic oil paintings, this ballpark becomes the backdrop for the lyrics of Norworth's renowned 1908 song, which the entertainer penned while riding the Ninth Avenue El overlooking the Polo Grounds on a game day. Burke cleverly presents the lyrics in the context of the September 23, 1908 game between the New York Giants and the Chicago Cubs during the National League pennant race. In the foreground—and featured in the lesser-known inaugural verse of the song—the artist pictures Katie Casey, the feisty young fan whose voice delivers the familiar chorus. As the exciting game plays on, sidebars provide additional details about the Polo Grounds, close-ups of Christy Mathewson's favorite pitches ("the greatest pitcher in New York Giants history"), the 1908 Giants' team roster as well as the origins of "hot dog" and Cracker Jack. Handsome artwork that deftly evokes the period as well as on-field action, fun facts and contagious baseball euphoria help deliver a grand slam of a volume that will be a hit with fans of all generations. The musical score by Albert Von Tilzer follows an "extra innings" page that describes the suspenseful end to the Giants-Cubs contest of 1908. Ages 3-6. (Apr.)