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What is the Seventh Inning Stretch?

Niki Acker
Updated May 23, 2024
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The seventh inning stretch is a tradition in American baseball. Spectators stand up and stretch their muscles between halves of the seventh inning and typically sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." The break also gives the players some time to rest, and in many stadiums, it is the last chance for patrons to purchase alcoholic beverages. Some baseball teams have their own seventh inning stretch traditions, often consisting of a certain song sung in addition to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

The practice has been around since the very beginnings of professional baseball in the United States, though it was not standard practice until the 1920s. No one knows how exactly it began, but a practice very similar to the modern day seventh inning stretch was documented in a letter from 1869, the same year the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was formed. No matter how the tradition began, standing and getting a bit of exercise was certainly welcome to spectators of the game after sitting on hard wooden seats for two hours, and the idea caught on quickly.

"Take Me Out to the Ball Game" became incorporated into the break during the 1970s, when famed baseball announcer Harry Caray began singing the song over the air during his job with the Chicago White Sox. When he joined the Chicago Cubs in 1981, Caray continued the practice, and his nationwide popularity led to fans of all teams adopting the tradition. Today, the Cubs invite guest celebrities to lead their crowd in the song as Caray once did.

Many Major League Baseball teams make the seventh inning stretch their own by playing a song with special meaning to the home team after "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." For example, the Milwaukee Brewers play "The Beer Barrel Polka" and the Houston Texans play "Deep in the Heart of Texas." After the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, "God Bless America" became popular to sing during the break, either in addition to or in place of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

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Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a Sports n' Hobbies editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "
Discussion Comments
By SailorJerry — On Aug 19, 2011

@letshearit - In general, baseball doesn't have any rules about how long anything can take! Games have gotten much, much longer as commercial breaks have become a factor. American League games tend to be longer, too, for whatever reason. It's absurd - playoff games now start about 8:30 - so younger kids are in bed before it starts - and you're lucky if they end by midnight. Maybe that's why the players appear to be playing in pajamas!

The 7th inning stretch is just one more thing that's gotten longer and longer, from one song to two now that so many teams are still doing "God Bless America." (Personally, I find the national anthem at the beginning to be sufficient, but whatever.)

By letshearit — On Aug 19, 2011

Does anyone know how long the typical seventh inning stretch lasts? Does it depend on whether or not the teams playing are professionals?

I have been to a few ballgames and it always seems like the seventh inning stretch can be quite lengthy depending on whether or not there is a product to promote. I remember watching a good number of commercials during one game, but I guess everything needs a sponsor these days.

I suppose I am just curious if there is a hard and fast rule, or if it us to the baseball stadium's management. It seems to me that you wouldn't want your players cooling down too much.

By manykitties2 — On Aug 19, 2011

When I was younger I used to go with my dad to baseball games and I always loved the seventh inning stretch because it gave me time to move around and I enjoyed the shows that would be put on infield. Sometimes there would be dancers, or the mascot would fool around.

I also remember a few occasions where baseball players would sign autographs for the fans during this time. I managed to snag a few signatures myself over the years.

The seventh inning stretch honestly makes watching baseball live a lot easier. Innings can be really long and staying in one spot gets rather painful.

By anon94880 — On Jul 10, 2010

The seventh-inning stretch gives players a chance to rest? Where did you get from? The players don't do anything differently. The fans get up and stretch but the players continue their usual routine of preparing for the next half-inning; they just happen to do it while the fans are singing and stretching.

Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a Sports n' Hobbies editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide...
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