Mike Ditka mangled it. Bea Arthur smoked it. Mel Gibson risked his life trying to do it. *NSync asked to do it. Oprah refuses to do it. On a 90� day Joe Frazier froze in the middle of it.
What is if?
It's Singin' the Stretch at Wrigley Field—standing in the broadcast booth after the top of the seventh inning and leading more than 35,000 people in Take Me Out to the Ball Game.
Astronauts to Little League champs have done it, Miss America to George Will, Bozo to Barney and back again. Jeannie (Barbara Eden), Mary Ann (Dawn Wells) and the Beaver (Jerry Mathers) have all taken a whack at it. So did Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, whose ham-fisted rendition was introduced by Michael Buffer. Let's get rrrrrready to mumble!!!
Nearly all of them have one thing in common: They butchered the song.
One hockey coach (the Cubs can't remember which one) began this way: "Bring me out to the ball game." Ditka yelled the whole thing in 15 seconds, turning the lyrics into a kind of over-caffeinated halftime screech. He was so bad that when former Bears linebacker Dick Butkus tried it, he started by saying, "Well, I can't be worse than Ditka." And, then, sadly, he started singing. Blackhawks star Denis Savard got so flustered he resorted to French.
But they're all off the hook now, thanks to Ozzy Osbourne.
He tried Singin' the Stretch recently and sounded like a surgical patient in the last moments before the anesthesia takes hold. He was not just awful. He was 42 exits past awful. He had the words right in front of him, but, well.... " Mr. Osbourne has obviously lived a very full life," explains Joe Rios, the Cubs' marketing assistant who handles the celebs, "and the moment kind of consumed him."
According to the Chicago Tribune, here is exactly what Mr. Osbourne, er, emitted:
One. Two. Three.
Let's go out to the ball game. Let's go out to the bluhhhhhn.
Take me a ee-yan eeya [humming] the field.
I don't care if I ahh-uhn ack.
Da da da da duh da da da earn. Duh ee, da da da da dahhh.
For a fee, two, three strikes you're out at the old ball game!
Somewhere, Harry Caray was weeping.