For millions of people across this great country, the first month of baseball season is one of the most anticipated times of the year.
It is a time when fans of any team can put the cold winter offseason behind them and, for at least a short while, have a glimmer of hope not only toward the new season but the upcoming spring and summer months.
For me, however, baseball season signifies something else.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have something to admit. I am one of the saddest creatures ever put on this planet. I am a diehard Chicago Cubs fan.
Although oozing in tradition, the Cubs have the distinction of a 100-year-long World Series drought.
But through all of the near misses, dropped fly outs, and idiotic fans chasing a foul ball, the Cubs and their fans still maintain all of the renowned traditions that have made them one of the most recognizable ball clubs in the world.
One of these great traditions, started by Hall of Fame announcer Harry Caray, is the seventh inning stretch singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
Since Caray’s death in 1998, the singing duties for this awe-inspiring post have been handed to celebrities attending that day’s game.
This has not only provided Cubs fans with an opportunity to connect with some of the entertainment elite of this country, but it has also proven to be just as fascinating as the game itself.
Sometimes you’ll have professionals such as Eddie Vedder or Billy Joel taking the reins with stride. But, other times you will run into an actor, actress, athlete or sometimes even a singer whose vocals are so bad it would make Cubs fans run to Milwaukee for shelter.
So in honor of my beloved Cubs and the new season, I present the top five worst Wrigley Field renditions of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
5. Mike Ditka
Legendary Chicago Bears coach Ditka starts off this countdown with quite possibly one of the most ridiculous renditions of the song to date. Speeding through the song at an Usain Bolt pace, Ditka provided the bleacher bums that day with arguably his worst public performance since either his appearance in “Kicking and Screaming” or his stint with the New Orleans Saints.
There is one bit of solace I can take out of this—I now know that the “Super Bowl Shuffle” was no fluke. Ditka’s numerous attempts at entertainment really are that bad.
4. William Hung
Leaving the friendly confines of Wrigley Field for a moment, I believe special recognition should be given to Hung’s memorable rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during a Toronto Blue Jays game in 2006.
Changing the lyrics slightly to cooperate with your thick accent is OK.
But, changing “buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks” to “buy me some ‘penis’ and cracker jacks,” is, well, comical to say the least. Now we at least know what Hung was really thinking about while singing “She Bangs.”
3. Tony Romo
His singing is as bad as the Dallas Cowboys’ 2008 season. Well, almost.
At least this pretty boy quarterback has Jessica Simpson to fall back on. We know where all the talent has landed in that relationship...straight to Terrell Owens. Hello Buffalo.
2. Ozzy Osbourne
What more do I honestly need to say? The man cannot speak English.
Truthfully, I love Ozzy’s music. But after years of drug and alcohol abuse, the clarity of his voice is, well, lacking to put it nicely. Ozzy stuttered through the song like George W. Bush at a book reading.
If you can truthfully make one coherent sentence out of his blabbering, e-mail me. I’d love to know how the Prince of Darkness worked the f-word into this one.
1. Jeff Gordon
Iconic NASCAR driver Gordon tops the list with a “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” rendition so bad it would make listening to a Barbra Streisand album refreshing.
Not only did Gordon insult Cubs fans by referring to the historic Wrigley Field as “Wrigley Stadium,” but he continuously butchered the song, forgot lyrics, sang out of place and eventually was booed out of the press box.
Thank God Gordon’s driving abilities are a lot better than his singing. Otherwise, this four-time Sprint Cup champion would be in more trouble than Alex Rodriguez’s career.
There you have it, the all-time five worst renditions of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” If you would like to check out any of these embarrassments to the art of singing, they are all available on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.
But until then, enjoy yet another great baseball season. Go, Cubs, Go!
Originally ran in "The Daily Athenaeum," Morgantown, WV on April 7, 2009.