Copycat Songs

The success of Albert Von Tilzer and Norworth’s “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” prompted a rash of imitations, the most notorious being George M. Cohan’s song on display. Cohan’s version was composed within days after baseball’s greatest hit and was even advertised in the same May 2, 1908, issue of Variety. There are blatant similarities between the songs: the titles, the opening idea of choosing the ballpark over more lady-like activities, the meter and lyrics of the choruses, and more. Despite an avalanche of advertising, Cohan’s copycat song was a flop. Norworth gloated, “Who ever heard of a baseball song with ‘in the stands it’s so grand if you’re holding her hand at the old ball game.’”

1 of 2

  • George M. Cohan, William Jerome, and Jean Schwartz. “Take Your Girl to the Ball Game.” New York: Cohan & Harris Pub. Co., 1908. Sheet music. Music Division, Library of Congress (046.01.00)

  • Edith Barbier and Arthur Longbrake. “Base Ball Game of Love.” Philadelphia: Jos. Morris Co., 1909. Sheet music. Music Division, Library of Congress (041.00.00)

Bookmark this item: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/baseballs-greatest-hits/game-of-love.html#obj046

Getting on Base

Songwriters continued to seek the success enjoyed by the creators of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” It seemed as if the way to a woman’s heart could only be by getting on base with such songs as “I Can’t Get to First Base with You” [image 1] and “If You Can’t Make a Hit in the Ball Game, You Can’t Make a Hit with Me.” [image 2]

“I’ve sacrificed and bunted my heart . . .
The game is over, there’s nothing else we can do,
I can’t get to first base with you.”

“Poor May almost fainted when she heard these words so clear:
Strike one! Strike two! Strike three! The Batter’s out!
Then Dan heard May Ann in frenzy shout:
If you can’t make a hit in the ball game you can’t make a hit with me.”

1 of 2

  • Fred Fisher and Mrs. Lou Gehrig. “I Can’t Get to First Base with You.” New York: Fred Fisher Music Co., 1935. Sheet music. Music Division, Library of Congress (042.00.00)

  • William Held and William G. Welzel. “If You Can’t Make a Hit in the Ball Game, You Can’t Make a Hit with Me.” Gorry, Pennsylvania: Chas. H. Henderson Music Pub. Co., 1912. Sheet music. Music Division, Library of Congress (045.00.00)

Bookmark this item: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/baseballs-greatest-hits/game-of-love.html#obj042

“I Want to Go to the Ball Game”

Musical prodigy, performer and prolific Tin Pan Alley composer Al Brown contributed a total of nine songs to the baseball repertoire, hoping that just one of them might successfully ride on the coattails of Von Tilzer’s 1908 hit. Even with the exceptional cover art reminiscent of George Cohan’s copycat song, “Take Your Girl to the Ball Game,” and a cameo photo of vaudevillian Lucille Langdon, the song languished. [image 1] Another unsuccessful copycat song “I’ve Been Making a Grandstand Play for You,” [image 2] attempted to capitalize on the theme of taking your girl to the ball game.

1 of 2

  • Al W. Brown and C. P. McDonald. “I Want to Go to the Ball Game.” Chicago: Victor Kremer Co., 1909. Sheet music. Music Division, Library of Congress (043.00.00)

  • Jos. McCarthy and William Farmer. “I’ve Been Making a Grandstand Play for You.” New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co., 1911. Sheet music. Music Division, Library of Congress (044.00.00)

Bookmark this item: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/baseballs-greatest-hits/game-of-love.html#obj043