Is there anything more romantic on Valentine's Day than a baseball love song? Well, perhaps. But work with me on this one. Here is a selection of just a few of the many amorous baseball ditties that have been written over the years.
Tally One for Me (1877)
The sheet music for "Tally One for Me," an 1877 polka that sold for 40 cents, features an absolutely gorgeous view of a nineteenth century ball game. Since the publisher (F.W. Helmick) and the lithographer (Monsch & Company) were both based in Cincinnati, it may be possible that the ballpark depicted in the cover art is Cincinnati's Avenue Grounds, home of the National League Reds from 1876 to 1879. If so, this would be remarkable, as I am unaware of any known images of that short-lived major league ballpark.
Here's the song's final verse and chorus:
I soon will stop my "balling,"
For my heart is led astray.
'Twas stolen by a nice young girl,
By her exquisite play.
And after we are married,
why, I hope you'll come to see.
The "tally" I have made for life,
And mark it down for me, oh!
For when I take the bat in hand
My style is sure and free ...
Just put your money on my side,
And tally one for me.
Base-Ball Game of Love (1909)
What more need be said? Here's the first verse and chorus.
When first I gaz’d into your eyes,
Your image made a home run to my heart,
I tried to tag the feeling
Which into my heart was stealing,
But it had too great a start.
I thought ‘twas just a base hit that you made,
And you’d be caught in stealing second base,
But you went the whole way ‘round
And very soon I found
There was going to be a real live pennant race.
I was on first and you on second,
Cupid held the third base down,
He coax’d me to lead off and catch you,
But you saw me start I found;
And as we two reach’d third together,
Cupid gave us such a shove,
That we both slid for the home plate,
In our baseball game of love.
Come on Play Ball with Me Dearie (1909)
Written by the same songwriting team that penned "By the Light of the Silvery Moon," Gus Edwards and Edward Madden's "Come On Play Ball with Me" was featured in "Ziegfeld's Follies of 1909." However, according to the Internet Broadway Database, the 1909 Broadway review actually featured a different baseball song, "Let's Get the Umpire's Goat," by the husband-and-wife duo of Jack Norworth and Nora Bayes. (You'll remember Jack Norworth as the lyricist for "Take Me Out to the Ball Game.") It is likely that part way through the show's eight-week run, "Come on Play Ball" was added and the Norworth./Bayes tune dropped. Here's the song's chorus:
Come on play ball with me dear
I'll "catch" whatever you "throw,"
I know lots of places where we can "run bases"
If you'll only wait for me after the show,
We won't "run home" till you're weary
You'll like my "curves," never fear;
My heart is on fire,
When Cupid's umpire,
Come on, come on, play ball with me, dear.
This simple sheet music cover pretty much sums up the theme of baseball and love. Written by Eugene Martin, the tune features this first verse and chorus:
When he runs I have a feeling that makes me glad.
Oh, when the ball goes sailing through the air.
It's joy for me for I know he will out run it there,
It was this booster in the grand stand so near,
that lead him home tho' the ball was near
The race was between it and my little dear.
Now you know how my heart felt
when it looked like it would beat him there.
How you take my eye
How I love I love to be your never never good
But now I'm going to try, I am going to try
It's true as I am looking in to your little eye to never lose no never
No greater game I can play than base ball for you.
You're Hitting a Thousand in the Game of Love (1915)
With a name like Ernest R. Ball, is it any surprise that the longtime songwriter penned a baseball song? While he may be better known for "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," Ball teamed up with lyricists Bill Cahalin and J. Kiern to write "You're Hitting a Thousand in the Game of Love." Here's the chorus:
You're hitting a thousand in the game of love,
You've made a "clean steal" of my heart,
With you on the team what a cinch it would seem
To play the game square from the start;
From your eyes to your lips to my heart
You've made a "triple play,"
If you say you will sign,
It''s a "home run" for mine,
For you're hitting a thousand today.
Latins Know How (1940)Irving Berlin wrote this tune playing off the stereotype of Latin Americans as great lovers. The song's only connection to baseball is that the chorus rather bizarrely claims "Latins, they don't play baseball." Huh?
Alas, I was unable to track down the sheet music for this one, but here are some of the lyrics:
In a magazine I read
Where a certain author said
That Latins are lousy lovers
And it's a lie
A libelous lie
And who, tell me, who should know better than I?
Latins, they don't play baseball
They're not so good with a rake or a plow
They're not experts at making money
But when it comes to making love
A Latin knows how.