Cast & Crew
In 1906, Eddie O'Brien and Dennis Ryan, star players for the Wolves baseball team, reunite with their teammates in Sarasota, Florida, after completing their off-season jobs as vaudeville entertainers. At the hotel near the training field, Eddie and Dennis lament their lost freedom and long for the days when they could stay up late and date women. The strict training schedule upsets Eddie more than it does Dennis, who has always had difficulty meeting women because of his shyness. The team celebrates the new season with a party, but the celebration is dampened by news that the recently deceased owner of the Wolves has bequeathed the team to a distant relative, K. C. Higgins. When the team is told that K. C. will be participating in the management of the team, Dennis and Eddie lead a rebellion against the change even before the new owner arrives. The team members, who have assumed that K. C. is a man, are astonished when they discover that she is a woman. One day, at a practice session, K. C. steps up to the mound, gives Eddie a batting lesson and proves that she possesses an exceptional knowledge of baseball. K. C. eventually earns the respect of the team, though her formal style is mocked by some of the players. Determined to get K. C. to ease her harsh penalties for breaking training, Eddie sends Dennis to charm her. Eddie takes over when Dennis bungles his mission, but K. C. sees through his ploy. Training season eventually comes to an end, and the first game of the season opens with Dennis, Eddie and their teammate, Nat Goldberg, performing a clown act on the field. During the game, Shirley Delwyn, a fan of the team and an admirer of Dennis, comes to his rescue when he is knocked unconscious in a scuffle with the umpire. Shirley is not aware that her companion, Joe Lorgan, is an underworld figure who is betting heavily on the Wolves. Despite Dennis' lack of interest in Shirley, she continues to aggressively pursue a romance with him and chases him around the stadium to prove her devotion. While the Wolves enjoy a winning streak on the road, Lorgan continues to make a fortune betting on them. Lorgan eventually changes his betting practices when he finds an opportunity to fix the game in his favor. As part of his plan, Lorgan coaxes Eddie into leaving the team to pursue a full-time career as a performer, hoping it will hurt the team. Eddie starts rehearsals right away and continues to play baseball during the day while rehearsing his act at night. His busy schedule begins to take its toll on his game and his team goes into a slump. K. C. soon suspects that Eddie is playing badly because he is in love with her, so she offers her affections to him in an attempt to reverse the team's fortunes. Eddie eventually discovers Lorgan's scheme, but not before K. C. finds out about his moonlighting and suspends him. Desperate to get back on the team, Eddie enlists the help of a group of children to start a protest movement to get him back on the field. The plan works, much to the dismay of Lorgan, who has counted on Eddie's suspension and bet $20,000 against the Wolves in their next outing. Fearing that Eddie might win the game for the Wolves if he is added to the lineup, Lorgan plots a scheme to keep him from playing. Shirley, who finally realizes Lorgan's crooked ways, warns Dennis that Eddie will be in danger if he is placed in the lineup. Dennis deliberately knocks Eddie unconscious with a baseball, hoping that it will prevent him from getting hurt or killed by Lorgan. Eddie is removed to the locker room just as the game begins, and Lorgan sends two of his men, posing as doctors, to guard him. When Shirley tells K. C. about Lorgan, K. C. sends her players to subdue the fake doctors and release Eddie. After Lorgan is exposed and knocked unconscious by K. C., Eddie returns to the field and hits a game winning homerun. All ends happily as Eddie looks forward to a real romance with K. C. and Dennis finally takes notice of Shirley.
The Blackburn Twins
John "red" Burger
James K. Brock
Daniel B. Cathcart
James Z. Flaster
Henry W. Grace
S. C. Manatt
Albert Von Tilzer
Edwin B. Willis
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Set at the turn of the century, Take Me Out to the Ball Game co-stars Esther Williams as the unexpected new owner of the Wolves, the baseball team for which Sinatra and Kelly play. After some initial resentment the guys discover that this beautiful woman knows her baseball, with first Sinatra and then Kelly falling for her. Also entangled in the plot are Betty Garrett as the gal who pines for Sinatra, and a gaggle of gangsters who have their own interest in the team. The Roger Edens/Betty Comden/Adolph Green score has Sinatra and Kelly teaming memorably on such numbers as "Yes, Indeed" and "O'Brien To Ryan To Goldberg." Jules Munshin, their cohort in On the Town, joins the latter number as the third member of the double-play infield trio. Other tunes include "The Right Girl For Me," "It's Fate, Baby, It's Fate," "Strictly U.S.A.," and the title song.
Williams, accustomed to starring in her own swim musicals, did not adapt well to working with Kelly and Stanley Donen, who collaborated on the film's original story and choreography. In her recent autobiography, The Million Dollar Mermaid, Williams described the experience as "pure misery," claiming that Kelly and Donen were condescending and constantly made her "the butt of their jokes." She formed a lasting friendship with Sinatra, however, after encouraging him when he feared his after-hours carousing might get him fired from the film. "Take a look at the dailies," Williams says she advised Sinatra. "Your voice sounds wonderful. You're even matching Gene step-for-step in the dance numbers. So you're painting the town after work, but it's not affecting what you do on film."
Director: Busby Berkeley
Producer: Arthur Freed
Screenplay: Harry Tugend, George Wells, Gene Kelly (story), Stanley Donen (story)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Daniel B. Cathcart
Costume Design: Helen Rose, Valles
Cinematography: George Folsey
Editing: Blanche Sewell
Original Music: Roger Edens, Adolph Green
Song Lyrics: Betty Comden
Choreography: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Principal Cast: Frank Sinatra (Dennis Ryan), Esther Williams (K.C. Higgins), Gene Kelly (Eddie O'Brien), Betty Garrett (Shirley Delwyn), Edward Arnold (Joe Lorgan), Jules Munshin (Nat Goldberg).
C-93m. Close captioning.
by Roger Fristoe
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
A July 1948 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that actor Richard Lane replaced James Gleason, who withdrew from the cast due to an illness. According to a December 1948 article in Parade, $38,000 of the nearly $2,000,000 spent on the film was used to shoot the two-and-a-half minute scene in which Betty Garrett chases Frank Sinatra through the bleachers of a baseball stadium. The scene took two months to plan and involved over sixty crew members. The article also notes that the song heard during the chase, "It's Fate, Baby, It's Fate," was recorded by Garrett and Sinatra in a sound studio before the scene was filmed. The song was played back on large speakers in the stadium during the chase, and was later synchronized to match the action. According to the New York Times review Kelly and Sinatra's clowning sequences were inspired by the real life comic antics of baseball players Nick Altrock and Al Schacht.
Modern sources provide the following information about the film: The idea for the picture originated with Kelly, who thought up the story in the the summer of 1946 with help from choreographer and director Stanley Donen, who had hoped to co-direct the film with Kelly. Kelly came up with the idea after turning down a project suggested by producer Joe Pasternak in which he and Sinatra were to have played former sailors who buy a damaged aircraft carrier from the government and transform it into a nightclub. Kelly and Donen sold their story to M-G-M for $25,000, and their original synopsis listed Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher in the three starring roles. Durocher was suggested for the role of an Irish American named "Shaughnessy," but his character was eventually changed to a Jewish character, played by Jules Munshin.
Modern sources also add that Kathryn Grayson was suggested for the female lead, but she was replaced by Judy Garland, who, in turn, was replaced by Esther Williams. George Wells wrote the first draft of the screenplay, but it was discarded when Williams was cast in the film. Also discarded was a score written by Harry Warren and Ralph Blane, which included the songs "Someone Like You," "If It Weren't for the Irish" and "The Boy in the Celluloid Collar." A new screenplay was written by Harry Tugend, and the new score was developed from songs written by Roger Edens, Adolph Green and Betty Comden. A biography of producer Arthur Freed indicates that Harry Crane contributed to the screenplay. The film's title song was a standard composed in 1908.
A song entitled "Boys and Girls Like You and Me," written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, was performed in the picture by Sinatra but was removed before a December 16, 1948 preview in Encino, CA. Take Me Out to the Ball Game was a box office hit, and Freed awarded Donen and Kelly the directorial assignment on On the Town based on their work on this film. The picture marked the first directorial outing for Busby Berkeley since Cinderlla Jones (released in 1946 but completed in 1944), and also was his final film as director. Berkeley continued to work on films until 1962, but only as a choreographer. The film also was editor Blance Sewell's last film. Sewell, who began editing films in the 1920s, died on February 3, 1949. According to a November 1951 news item, Erroll Joe Palmer, a writer also known as Erroll Paul, filed a $150,000 suit against M-G-M, charging that Take Me Out to the Ball Game was in part plagiarized from his original script "Base-Hits and Bloomers." No additional information on the disposition of this suit has been located.