I could not touch on this in my article on "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," but the song went through a curious transformation in the 1940s and 50s. Many decades after the song was written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer in triple meter -- a relaxed waltz-like 3/4 -- it began to appear in common time 4/4!
Here is the original song in 3/4 (triple meter), from one of its first recordings:
And here is a recording nearly 50 years later in which the song is now in 4/4 (duple meter):
Apparently, this was not unusual:
"It's a common practice among jazz musicians to take 3/4 songs and morph them into 4/4," Bob Thompson, co-author of "Baseball's Greatest Hit" e-mailed me today. "The earliest versions of 'Take Me Out...' done in 4/4 were by jazz musicians and musicians from the swing era. Duke Ellington was famous for doing this...his version of the 'Waltz of the Sugarplums' from his 'Nutcracker' is in 4/4."
In my opinion, the 4/4 version -- essentially a march -- is horrid. It ruins the natural accents of the text and make for a much more rigid feel to the song, almost a forced feel (putting a square peg in a round hole). I think it is only fitting that the waltz version -- I mean the original score! -- has survived to be the more popular one and the one sung in ball parks today.