I love me some baseball. It's hands-down my favorite sport, and now that the kids are old enough to play, summertime is pretty much baseball time at my house. But even if you don't know a bunt from a balk, chances are you know the words to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", right?
See, baseball fans have this odd habit of asking to go to a game, in song form, during the middle of the seventh inning (commonly called the "seventh inning stretch"). The music is piped in, we link arms with one another, and white-guy sway our way through an off-key folk song if there ever was one. In Chicago, this ritual took on special significance, as beloved broadcaster Harry Caray would lead the crowd at Wrigley Field by leaning out of his booth and directing with his free hand. (Also of note, he's credited for starting the tradition of inserting the home team's nickname in place of the words "the home team", a practice emulated all over the country.)
So, since Caray's death in 1998, it's become a kind-of meta tradition to invite Chicagocentric celebrities to come and lead the crowd at Wrigley.
Mostly, they're awful at it.
Here's a few of my favorites:
We'll start with the gold standard - here's Harry Caray, in 1985.
Here's Eddie Vedder, who screws it up despite claiming to "sing it for Harry". My favorite part of this is his apparent appeal to "buy [him] some peanuts and crack".
NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon doesn't even really try here. Come on guy, put the song on your freakin' iPod, click "repeat", and listen to it while YOU DRIVE IN CIRCLES FOR FIVE HOURS.
Danika Patrick does a little bit better, but could use some time with a vocal coach. Like, two minutes. Or maybe just pass one in the hallway. She's cute, though... just watch it while muted.
Speaking of things to watch while muted, former American Idol contestant Kellie Pickler makes matters worse by hanging around in the booth after screwing up the words (to the WGN news desk's horrified amusement).
Pat from WGN mentioned Ozzy, so I guess I'll throw him in, as well - though like Gordon, this barely counts as an attempt.
And perhaps the most amazing minute of internet video you'll ever see, ladies and gentlemen, your idol and mine, Mr. T.
That's "I pity the Pirates!" at the end, there. Mr T. rules.
Now let's get some runs!