A Little ‘Pepper’ in That Song
As I mentioned in my previous blog about the late, great All-American Girls Professional Baseball League star Lavonne “Pepper” Paire Davis, her other great love, besides baseball, was writing and singing – songs and poems.
I had called Pepper while doing some research related to the centennial of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” back in 2008. I knew that she was the writer behind a great parody of baseball’s anthem. Whenever several veteran players from the AAGPBL were gathered for an appearance at a ball game or a card show, they would often break into song, usually singing the league’s “Victory Song” (also written by Pepper along with fellow player Nalda Bird Phillips), and then they would go into their own version of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”
AAGPBL Rosters were not nearly as large as major league rosters, usually featuring anywhere from 15-18 players. Therefore, when injury struck, the ladies either played through the pain, or, if they had to sit out, often someone else had to play out of position in order to field a team. These were tough women.
So, her parody makes fun of what she saw as the more frail players of later generations, though she was careful to note that not all modern players are like this. Pepper told me that Ernie Banks and Duke Snider were great fans of her version of the song, and would ask her to sing it when they ran into each other at card shows and other events. Here’s how it goes:
Take Me Out of the Ball Game
I don’t think I can play;
I’ve got a headache and a hangnail too,
What’s more I think I’m coming down with the flu;
So please, Take me out of the ball game,
If we don’t win it’s a shame;
But I’ll still get my
One, Two, Three million or more
At the Old Ball Game.
Tim Wiles is the director of research for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum