Saturday, August 4, 2018

Baseball and the Star-Spangled Banner

Baseball Sports Decor Wall Hanging
Reviewing how the Star-Spangled Banner became associated with sports. 

September 14, 2014, marked the 200th anniversary of the “Star-Spangled Banner”.  

It originally was a poem called "Defence of Fort M'Henry" written by Francis Scott Key 0n 9-14-1814 after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the American victory and by seeing the American flag flying over the fort.  The poem was later set to music and published under the name “The Star- Spangled Banner”.

The song gained popularity throughout the 1800s and was played by bands during public events.  On July 27, 1889, Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Tracy made it the official tune to be played at the raising of the flag. 

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that "The Star-Spangled Banner" be played at military and other appropriate occasions. 

And on March 3,1931 President Herbert Hoover signed a law officially adopting “The Star-Spangled Banner” as America's National Anthem.

How Did Our National Anthem Become Associated with Sports?

The National Anthem
So, how did the song become associated with baseball?  It happened during the 1918 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox.  A band had been hired by the Red Sox owner for each game in the World Series and, as a tribute to enlisted players and other soldiers in Europe during WWI, they played “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the seventh inning stretch.  The song was many years away from becoming our national anthem, but players still stood at attention and saluted the flag during the performance.  Servicemen in the crowd found themselves cheering and everyone burst into applause at the end of the song.  

Near the end of that World Series, the tune was played before the first pitch at Fenway Park and it was the beginning of a tradition that became a baseball game standard during World War II.  Eventually the playing of the American National Anthem became a custom adopted by other American sports and continues to this day.

This reminds me of that oldest of baseball jokes: "What are the last two words of the national anthem? Play ball!" 

Baseball Dad Flag T-Shirt on Etsy 

(c) Wednesday Elf, the Review This! Baseball Contributor

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”



  1. What a great history to a song that everyone don't even have to be American to recognize it! Many I did not know facts in here, thanks Miss Elf! Maybe the next time I'm playing a guessing game, I'll have the right answer.

    1. Thanks for your visit, Olivia. I always enjoy hearing O Canada played at the Olympic Games when a Canadian wins a gold medal. I think national anthems are interesting to learn what they are and how they came to be.

  2. Well that was interesting! Love this history tidbits. I'm ready for a Jeopardy question now lol. I know all the words too, and sing a long every time I hear it. Love singing it too, it's one of my faves to belt out.

    1. Fun to hear that people from other countries (Canada represented here) enjoy America's National Anthem. Thanks for dropping by, Barbara. Go Blue Jays! :)

  3. Miss Elf, What a fun bit of history/trivia.

    1. Glad you enjoyed learning a bit about the background of our national anthem, Dawn, and how it came to be associated with baseball and other sports.

  4. Very informative! Love the Play Ball :)

    1. I love the 'Play Ball' too, Tracey. Thanks for visiting.

  5. What a fun piece of history. These history facts are all new to me. Thanks for the history lesson Pat :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sam. Go Pirates! LOL.

    2. Well, as you know my Pirates are not doing so well this year. There is always next year!!!!

  6. Very interesting historical facts! I've never questioned why we use the Star-Spangled Banner at games, but now that I know, I find it extremely interesting. Thank you Elf! Always fun to learn these neat little tidbits of information.


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