The release of Diamond Cuts: Seventh Inning Stretch is an appropriate time to pause and reflect upon the role these CDs play in baseball culture. Everyone knows that baseball and American culture are deeply intertwined, but the Diamond Cuts compilation series proves it. Jeff Campbell's labor of love in collecting seven CDs worth of baseball music stands as one of the great contributions of a single fan to the game. And the fact that all of the music is good music, not just novelty knock-offs, makes the achievement a contribution to American musical culture as well. By locating, recording, and publishing great songs about the game, Jeff Campbell has become the Harry Smith of baseball music.
The latest Diamond Cuts volume is appropriately titled "Seventh Inning Stretch." The origins of the seventh inning stretch itself are cloaked in mystery. There are several stories told about this unique custom. Some date the stretch to 1910, when President William Howard Taft stood up between halves of the seventh inning for a stretch in Pittsburgh. The story goes that everyone else in the ballpark stood up out of respect. Then there is the earlier story that Brother Jasper created the stretch during an 1882 game at Manhattan College. We do know that way back in 1869, Future Hall-of-Famer Harry Wright described the stretch in a letter he wrote to a friend: "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." Take that, Brother Jasper and President Taft.
"Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was written way back in 1908, but apparently it did not become a regular part of the seventh inning stretch until the late 1970s, when then-White Sox broadcaster Harry Caray began singing during the stretch at Comiskey Park. The story goes that Sox owner Bill Veeck prevailed upon Harry to sing to the Sox faithful, with an implied threat: he had taped Harry singing already, so he would play the tape if Harry didn't go live. After Caray moved across town to the Cubs (with their national TV exposure), a tradition was born which is now nearly universal. This volume of Diamond Cuts includes one of Harry's classic renditions. So sing along with Harry and all these great bands, and enjoy the great game of baseball.
Tim Wiles, Director of Research
National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum Library
The Diamond Cuts collections are inspired by a passion for baseball, music, and helping others. The proceeds from Diamond Cuts provide funding for Hungry for Music, a Washington, DC-based charity. Hungry for Music's mission is to inspire disadvantaged children (and others) by bringing positive musical and creative experiences into their lives. Programs include a musical instrument donation for underprivileged children.