The baseball classic, sung during the seventh inning in most stadiums around the country, was written in 1908 by lyricist Jack Norworth and composer Albert Von Tilzer.
Von Tilzer, who changed his name from Gumm (originally Gumbinski), was one of five brothers from Indiana who all had careers on Tin Pan Alley and in vaudeville.
In the book, more details are revealed about Von Tilzer, who was a shoe salesman in his father Jacob Gumm's store in Indianapolis before joining his brothers in songwriting. Albert's brother Harry was the most successful of the five in the music world, and claimed to be the creator of the term "Tin Pan Alley" to describe the block of 28th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, where the tinny sound of pianos signaled the place where most music was written at the time.
Prior to writing baseball's hit tune, the lore goes, neither had attended a ballgame.
Their famous collaboration, which is sung publicly somewhere in the U.S. every day from mid-spring to early fall, is believed to trail only “Happy Birthday” and "The Star-Spangled Banner” as America’s most performed songs.
Since the sportscaster Harry Caray first began belting it out at Chicago’s Comiskey Park in the mid-1970s, and later at Wrigley Field, the song has become a regular feature at major league and minor league ballparks across America. They even sing it in Japan.
Yet considering the song’s fame, Norworth and Van Tilzen go largely unrecognized by baseball officialdom, and Von Tilzer scores barely a nod in the Jewish community. Their story resembles the song’s famous punchline: “and it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out at the old ball game.”