In 1908, Jack Norworth was sitting on a subway train when he saw a sign saying, “Baseball Today – Polo Grounds.” Norworth had never been to a baseball game before, but the sign inspired him to write one of the most iconic songs in sports history: “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
Last week, the Toadies released their version. The Fort Worth-based band decided to record the song after appearing in a Super Bowl commercial for the Texas Rangers that featured a parody of it. “It turned out to be a lot of fun, so we arranged to go in the studio and do a full-band ‘Toaded out’ version,” says frontman Vaden Todd Lewis.
The song has become part of baseball’s seventh inning stretch soundtrack, sung at ballparks from the minor leagues to MLB. Hundreds of celebrities have sung the song at ballparks from Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne to Mr. T to Eddie Vedder, but few have covered the song. Among the list of successful covers are the Goo Goo Dolls, Carly Simon and a polka version by Brave Combo.
The Toadies cover, produced by Chris “Frenchie” Smith, puts a grungy rock ’n’ roll spin on the classic and features a T-E-X-A-S chant. Guitarist Clark Vogeler said he’s been attending games since the Rangers played at Arlington Stadium.
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“We’re all Rangers fans from way back,” he says. “There’s so many great players from all those years, like Nolan Ryan obviously, but also players like Pudge Rodriguez, who did amazing things when he was a Texas Ranger.”
It’s hard not to talk baseball with the band. Both Vogeler and drummer Mark Reznicek predict success for the Rangers after the team won the American League West division last year. “This team could very well be better than last season’s,” Vogeler says. “We think they will repeat last year’s dominance.”
The Toadies’ cover precedes their new album The Lower Side of Uptown, which will be released in September. “[It] will be a pretty heavy album with lots of riffs and odd time signatures,” Lewis says. “Sort of a return to form after our – fun as hell, but weird – last album. We’re having a lot of fun playing these new songs live and are looking forward to touring nationally when the album comes out.”
In addition to the new cover, the Toadies will play a post-game show on the field at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 29, when the Rangers take on division rival the Los Angeles Angels.