The Pop Culture Road Trip

DSCN4477-1.JPGIf you’ve followed the story, you know that what started out as an AOL Weird News article just a couple of months ago now soon became something much more.

Such was the case when my opening day piece lamenting the sorry state of songwriter Jack Norworth’s grave in Anaheim touched the heart of a several fans, enough to make them want to take action. 

Norworth is the man who, in 1908, penned the lyric for what has become the third most popular tune in the United States, “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” (behind “the National Anthem and “Happy Birthday).

J.P. Myers, an Orange County blood courier, was the first to take up the cause, starting a Facebook page to try and generate interest in creating a new historic marker for Norworth at the stadium.

Next came Maria and Charlie Sotelo, who operate a local monument building company. Then it was local businessman Jamie Chisick stepping up to donate money, followed by KinderVision, an organization dedicated to child safety. (AOL News also became involved in the charitable cause and covered a portion of the proceeds.)

And then Sunday, July11, what seemed unthinkable just several weeks ago became real on an overcast morning – a stunning marker dedicated to Jack Norworth was unveiled at Melrose Abbey Memorial Park, where Jack Norworth is laid to rest.

In a ceremony attended by over 100 people, I had the privilege of acting as emcee for the unveiling ceremony. There were Little Leaguers, fans, friends-and a Hall of Fame pitching legend, Rollie Fingers, on hand to take part.

J.P spoke, as did Maria, Charlie, Jamie and Doug Sebastian, founder of KinderVision. It was Sebastian who made the arrangements to have Fingers appear, as the ace relief pitcher is a KinderVision spokesman. 

In addition to talking about how the special “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” is to he and other big leaguers, Fingers offered, “As the spokesperson for KinderVision, the national child safety education program, I usually say “The Greatest Save is the one we never have to make”. However, in this case, this is a save we definitely needed to make. I am honored to be a part of saving Jack Norworth’s legacy to baseball.

I invite everyone who has participated in this effort, everyone who loves baseball and kids, everyone who loves doing good for kids to keep this effort moving forward by joining “The Greatest Save” Team at Together we can continue to impact baseball’s youngest fans for generations to come.”

Jennifer Sweet, head of the nearby Laguna Beach Little League, brought the 1958 trophy given to Norworth at a Dodgers games to mark the song’s 50th anniversary. It since has become the award given to the best Laguna Beach team each year, as Norworth spent the last 20 years of his life there (and even helped found the local Little League). 

A photo of Norworth first receiving the trophy, provided by Los Angeles Dodgers historian Mark Langill added an unexpected moment of coincidence to the proceedings. Marked on the back of the photo was the date that it was shot: July 11, 1958, the same day as the unveiling ceremony.

Somewhere, the baseball Gods must have been smiling. And somewhere, at this very moment, it’s no doubt someone is singing the song that brought us all together. 

Only now, there’s a place that truly honors the man who wrote it.


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