The Chicago Cubs take "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" quite seriously.
The simple sing-a-long is a staple at ballparks everywhere, of course, but Cubs fans embrace the tradition uniquely. Once the third out in the top of the seventh is recorded, a palpable sense of expectation fills the friendly confines. At other ballparks, you may sing along; you may not. At Wrigley Field, you sing. The tradition began with the late Harry Carey, the Cubs play-by-play man who would grab a microphone, stand up, and lead the crowd from his perch in the broadcaster's booth. Since Carey's passing, the Cubs have periodically invited celebrities to grab the mic and take the lead vocal.
Often, that celeb is a rock star.
Billie Joe Armstrong is certainly a rock star, so when the Green Day frontman found himself in Chicago, he was invited to have the time of his life. So what are the Top 5 Greatest Wrigley Field Performances of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" On YouTube Ever? Grab yourself some peanuts and Cracker Jacks and proceed:
5. Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day
A straightforward version, though free of the exurban ennui normally present in a Green Day-related performance. Even Jesus Of Suburbia can enjoy a ballgame now and then.
4. John Fogerty
The Creedence Clearwater Revival songwriter has contributed many tunes to our nation's musical canon, so why not invite Fogerty to take on the theme song of our national pastime? After a first second spent finding the key, Fogerty lets his familiar twang lead the way. Plus, he's holding a kid. What's more American than baseball and a kid? Nothin'.
This performance is notable for the presence of the entire band, all decked out in Cubs unis. Drummer Glenn Kotche is given the privilege of counting the song in—perhaps he's the band's diehard fan? Wilco are Chicago-based, but frontman Jeff Tweedy is from southern Illinois... St. Louis Cardinals territory. Hmmm. In this clip, Tweedy remains in the booth for the bottom of the seventh to chat.
2. Eddie Vedder
You know what goes well with baseball? Beer. Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder knows this. And anyone who watches this clip will know that Eddie Vedder knows this. Vedder—knowingly? unknowingly?—changes the song's penultimate line from "If they don't win it's a shame" to "If they don't win it's a game." Eddie's right... it IS just a game. Listen for Eddie's noted snarl giving way to a distinct slur as he counts off the intro:
1. Ozzy Osbourne
Baseball, when played well, is poetry come to life, an image of beauty where science and art blend seamlessly and words are not needed. No one knows this better than Ozzy Osbourne, who leaves out most of the words in this riveting performance. More impressive than the actual song here is the intro and then the outro. Ozzy and wife Sharon spend more than a few seconds getting the crowd pumped up for the song. Yes, they "are ready," guys! Once the song begins, Ozzy seems to retreat into a personal world where a stadium full of fans singing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" is somewhere beyond the event horizon. Near the end, however, the Ozzman returns to life, just in time to note that it's "three, two, three strikes" you're out at the old ballgame. Ozzy then makes clear his wish that the Cubs get some runs.
BONUS: Mr. T
This is why America is great.