BASEBALL + MUSIC+ FOOD = SUFFRAGE?
“Take Me Out to the ballgame” & WOMEN VOTING
What was the original meaning of the song “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” and why was it written? In the early 1900’s women were presumed not to want to go to baseball games but would prefer to be safe at home. Baseball was a man’s game and women were just not welcome at the games! The baseball’s anthem (“Take Me Out To The Ballgame”) tells a story about a woman’s desire to share equally in the baseball experience-a woman names Katie Casey who wanted to root, cheer, eat Cracker Jacks in the grandstand with the crowd and fully engage in the spectacle before her.
Composed in 1908, Jack Norworth wrote the lyrics for the song, “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”. According to the Library of Congress the character of Katie Casey may have been inspired by Norworth’ s girlfriend, Trixie Friganza, a vaudeville star and an outspoken suffrage member. The scrap of paper that Norworth wrote the song is included in the permanent collection of baseball memorabilia at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Today, the song is the third most popular song across the USA, after the National Anthem and Happy Birthday.
Other songs written at that time recount how much women wanted to attend ball games!! The lyrics of “I Want to Go to the Ball Game”, note that Mabel McCann would rather watch baseball games instead of eating!
Women involved in the suffrage movement found that baseball games was a great place to communicate to the many men who attended games that women should have the right to vote. These women paid to have billboards displayed at these games to communicate to the men that women should have the right to vote. Some of the slogans were: “Mother Makes a Home Run Daily”, Let Women Win the Vote in One Inning”, “Women Hate Coaching from the Sidelines”, Let Them Win With The Vote in 1915”. These songs and billboards gave you an idea of what the attitude was toward women and women voting. Remember there was no Fox News or NPR!
THE NEW YORK GIANTS AND WOMEN SUFFRAGE
In the run-up to the November 1915 vote on women’s suffrage referendum in New York State the suffrage movement went after men of all classes, wherever they happened to congregate, and especially where support was likely to be weakest. Although a poll of the Giants showed that the baseball players were almost unanimous in their opposition to votes for women. (They took polls in 1915!) The New York Tribune had a heading “Giants and Cubs to Play for Votes”. “Be a Suffrage Fan” is the motto that flooded the Polo Grounds on May 18, 1915. Women Suffrage Organizations formed teams to sell all of the 8,000 tickets. Mrs. Norman Whitehouse who headed the women baseball committee presented the Giants with a mascot bat. It is made of yellow wood and lettered in blue the advice, “Vote for Women Suffrage November 2, 1915 on its handle. Banners were draped across the fronts of the baseball boxes with many prominent suffrage women in attendance. The women sold trinkets and candy to raise money; they even bought a page in the baseball program that said “Vote Yes on Nov. 2, 1915. The New York Giants were supportive of women suffrage.
On June 3, 1916 the NY Giants played the Cincinnati Reds at the Polo Grounds. The Giants sponsored a Suffrage Day. The suffragist women wore yellow and blue silk banners while selling flags. The New York times said that some of the men did not see as much of the games as these attractive women mingled with the crowd and these fans didn’t care whether the game went twenty innings !!!! The suffragist had launched a “Cake for Every Ticket’ a week before the Giants and Reds game to get more people to attend the game so that the suffragist group would get a larger share of the receipts. A piece of chocolate cake was given to everyone who bought a baseball ticket from the suffrage headquarters.
Baseball and Music played a major role in the Suffrage Movement. When we all go to our next baseball game, and sing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” we need to recall all of those women with their yellow and blue banners serving chocolate cake.