Thorn: The Star Spangled Banner and baseball go back, back, back

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on May 23, 2017:

The Star Spangled Banner has been our national anthem only since 1931, but its ties to baseball go back, back, back … all the way to 1862. There appears to be no rule governing the playing or observance of the song at the ballpark … only custom. Here are a few background bits.

While the lyrics (to be sung to the tune of the warhorse drinking song “To Anacreon in Heaven”) were first published in broadside form, the first journal version was in The Analectic (November 1814), edited by Washington Irving. A copy came up at auction recently; I was an underbidder, alas.


At the opening game in William Cammeyer’s Union Grounds park in Brooklyn, a former skating grounds refashioned for baseball, on May 15, 1862 — as the nation was divided by the Civil War — a band boomed out “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The first major-league Opening Day at which SSB was played took place in Philly on April 22, 1897.

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Originally published: May 24, 2017. Last Updated: May 24, 2017.