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The Feminist History of ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’

Described by Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Caray as “a song that reflects the charisma of baseball,” ”Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” written in 1908 by lyricist Jack Norworth and composer Albert von Tilzer, is inextricably linked to America’s national pastime. But while most Americans can sing along as baseball fans “root, root, root for the home team,” few know the song’s feminist history.

A little more than a decade ago, George Boziwick, historian and former chief of the music division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, uncovered the hidden history behind the tune: the song was written as Jack Norworth’s ode to his girlfriend, the progressive and outspoken Trixie Friganza, a famous vaudeville actress and suffragist.

Born in Grenola, Kansas, in 1870, Friganza was a vaudeville star by the age of 19, and her life was defined by her impact both on and off the stage. As a well-known comedic actress, Friganza was best known for playing larger-than-life characters, including Caroline Vokes in The Orchid and Mrs. Radcliffe in The Sweetest Girl in Paris. Off the stage, she was an influential and prominent suffragist who advocated for women’s social and political equality. The early 1900s were a critical time in the fight for the vote: members of the Women’s Progressive Suffrage Union held the first suffrage march in the United States in New York City in 1908, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was established in 1909 to fight for voting rights of people of color, and in 1910, 10,000 people gathered in New York City’s Union Square for what was then the largest demonstration in support of women’s suffrage in American history.

Friganza, an unflinching supporter in the fight for the ballot, was a vital presence in a movement that needed to draw young, dynamic women into the cause. She attended rallies in support of women’s right to vote, gave speeches to gathering crowds, and donated generously to suffrage organizations. “I do not believe any man – at least no man I know – is better fitted to form a political opinion than I am,” Friganza declared at a suffrage rally in New York City in 1908. CLICK TO CONTINUE

 

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SheVille Team

We are a one-of-a-kind magazine that provides local, regional, national and international information about women’s lives and education, performing and visual arts and writing, the environment, green living and sustainability and regional Western North Carolina business, people and events. “Villages preserve culture: dress, food and dance are a few examples. As villages grow in population and turn into towns, local cafes make way for large American chains. Handmade leather sandals are discarded for a pair of Western sneakers. Due to its small size, a village fosters a tight-knit sense of community. Justpeace.org explains the meaning of the African proverb, “It takes a village,” by stating that a sense of community is critical to maintaining a healthy society. Village members hold a wealth of information regarding their heritage: they know about the ancient traditions, methods of production and the resources of the land. When villages become dispersed or exterminated in times of war, this anthropological knowledge disappears. Large cities are not as conducive to growing and producing foods such as fruits and vegetables. Villages, on the other hand, usually have ample amounts of land and other resources necessary for growing conditions.” The Importance of Villages by Catherine Capozzi Our Mission SheVille.org provides readers with information important to women’s lives and well-being. We focus primarily on the areas of education & health, business & finance, the arts & the environment. We are particularly interested in local & regional resources, organizations & events.

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