Imagine if each day at 3:30pm everyone at your job decided to take a break from work to sing a song, stand up out of their chairs and stretch. That would be odd, right?
Sure it would, unless you are a baseball player.
The seventh-inning stretch, a popular baseball tradition, takes place in the middle of the seventh inning during every game. Fans get out of their seat to stretch out their arms and legs while singing Take Me Out To The Ball Game.
Where did this tradition come from? Let’s find out in today’s edition of Wonder Why Wednesday…
Who Invented The 7th Inning Stretch?
The origin of the seventh-inning stretch, much like a teenager caught in a lie, has many different stories. Multiple people claim to have started this tradition. No one seems to know the definite history, but here are a few possibilities.
The Cincinnati Red Stockings played the Brooklyn Eagles in June 1869. The game’s recap in the New York Herald states, “At the close of the long second inning, the laughable stand up and stretch was indulged in all round the field.” Later that year, a report from the Cincinnati Commercial stated that a contest between Red Stockings and the Eagle Club of San Francisco featured, “Ten minutes’ intermission at the end of the sixth inning — a dodge to advertise and have the crowd patronize the bar.” Harry Wright, the Red Stockings’ manager at the time observed his fans’ ballpark behavior: “The spectators all arise between halves of the seventh inning, extend their legs and arms and sometimes walk about. In so doing they enjoy the relief afforded by relaxation from a long posture upon hard benches.”
On a hot summer day in June 1882, Brother Jasper (Brennan) of Mary, F.S.C., the coach of the Manhattan College baseball team, noticed his fans becoming restless during a game against a semi-pro team called the Metropolitans. To break the tension, he called a timeout in the game and told everyone in the stands to get up and unwind. The timeout was a hit and Brother Jasper began calling for a seventh-inning rest period at every game. The tradition spread to the New York Giants in the major leagues.
Yet another possibility comes from game 1 of the 1889 World Series when the crowd took a a seventh-inning stretch after somebody yelled “stretch for luck.”
One common origin story comes from April 14, 1910 when President William Taft attended a game between the Washington Senators and the Pittsburgh Athletics. At one point during the game, he heavy set president stood up to stretch, and upon seeing this, the crowd felt obligated to join their president in his gestures.
No one seems to know the real story, but one thing is known. The name “seventh-inning stretch” does not have any written records until 1920. However, in the 1870s there were references to something called the Lucky Seventh,which leads people to believe the original seventh-inning stretch has a superstitious background.
The song Take Me Out to the Ball Game was first played at a ballpark at a high school in Los Angeles, California in 1934. The song was written by Jack Norworth in 1908 to be used in the film Tin Pan Alley. Oddly enough, Norworth did not actually attended a baseball game until 1940, long after he wrote the song.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baseball-Almanac
Photo credit: Wikipedia