After lyricist Jack Norworth wrote the words for “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” he turned to composer Albert Von Tilzer to set the words to music. Von Tilzer was a professional songwriter with an impressive resume. Over the course of his long career, he wrote several hit songs, including "Oh By Jingo!" in 1919, which, as you clearly should already know, was featured in the show Linger Longer Letty. What? You didn’t know that? Weird…
Norworth and Von Tilzer worked on Tin Pan Alley, a row of music publishers located on 28th street between 5th Avenue and Broadway in New York City. According to legend, the street drew its name from reporter Monroe Rosenfeld who said that a passerby could hear the musicians inside the buildings pounding away at their work on cheap upright pianos like they were banging on tin pans.
Tin Pan Alley emerged in the last decade of the 19th century to meet a booming demand for sheet music. After 1870, a huge market in inexpensive upright pianos emerged. They could squeeze into virtually every middle-class parlor, and they provided an affordable symbol of cultural refinement. Piano teachers were in great demand during these years, but so too was sheet music for America’s budding Chopins to play.
The performers of Vaudeville also shopped on Tin Pan Alley. They were always looking for catchy new tunes for their acts. Low profile performers had to buy their music, but big stars like Nora Bayes or Ruth Etting were given free copies of music because the publishers knew that a song sung by one of these was almost certain to be a hit. Since the real goal was to sell sheet music; this sort of advertising was golden.