People Who Completely Butchered "Take Me Out To The Ballgame"

Baseball is a game of traditions. So much so that whenever the lords of baseball decide to change a rule, it's incredibly controversial — old-timers are still complaining about the designated hitter rule and divisional play many decades after their introduction.

That reliance on tradition has its charms, however. The fact that a trip to the baseball stadium will get you and your family an experience that is wholesomely similar to the one enjoyed by your parents and grandparents is part of the game's appeal. Yes, modern stadiums have enormous screens and sophisticated sound systems, and you can now order sushi to be delivered to your seat, but many aspects of attending a baseball game haven't changed much. People still do The Wave, you can still get your peanuts and Cracker Jacks, and there's still a ridiculous show during the seventh-inning stretch.

In many stadiums, the seventh-inning stretch tradition includes singing along to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," a song so cheesy everyone loves it. At Chicago's Wrigley Field, announcer Harry Caray made a meal out of leading the crowd every game until he passed away in 1998. The team launched a new tradition of having celebrities show up to sing the song in Caray's honor — and that has resulted in some truly terrible renditions. Here are some of the people who completely butchered "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

Ice Cube: Throwing everyone off

To be fair, part of the fun of having a celebrity sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" is the fact that they're often not professional singers. Neither are most of us, so it's actually kind of charming when someone is a little squeaky or off-key, as long as they bring the right spirit to the performance. But you have to judge those performances on their own merits. 

Ice Cube is known as a legendary rapper and a crowd-pleasing actor, but his rendition of the baseball classic in 2017 was "awesomely bad" according to The Washington Post. The notion that he isn't exactly Pavarotti isn't the issue. It's his screamy tone and the fact that, as noted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's review of social media posts, he's kind of off-rhythm throughout the whole song. For a man whose entire career is based on rapping over complex beats, the one aspect of the song you'd expect him to nail would be the rhythm. As noted by SBNation, Cube's chaotic approach to the song even threw off Wrigley Field's organist, which is quite the achievement in terribleness.

Still, as many people noted at the time, what Ice Cube loses in terms of performance, he makes up for in attitude: He's clearly enjoying himself immensely and, even if his singing is not pleasant, he does an admirably efficient job of getting through the song. Just as you're contemplating how bad it is, he's wrapping it up like the pro he is.

Warren G: Unregulated

As noted by Esquire, it takes a certain kind of special intensity to mess up the lyrics of a song that are also the title of the song, but that's exactly what rapper Warren G managed to do when singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in 2016. Part of the charm of having non-singing celebrities lead the crowd in the song is the fact that they might not be the best singer — so you know it takes a spectacularly terrible performance to actually get the crowd to boo you. But that's exactly what Warren G did.

According to Vanyaland, the lyric screw up (Warren G sang "Take me to the ballgame," skipping the word "out") turned the crowd against him immediately. And as Warren G proceeds, it starts to feel like he'd rather be doing almost anything else and is rushing the song as much as he can, which, once the boos really get traction, is very possibly exactly what the poor man was thinking.

Warren G's performance is so bad NBC Sports described it as the "worst ever," with journalist Craig Calcaterra pondering what Warren G's awful rendition means in terms of his future career as an entertainer (ouch). What was the only upside? Every single article written about this debacle (including this one) used a pun on his classic song "Regulate," no doubt boosting sales of that banger slightly.

William Hung: A feature, not a bug

Depending on your age, you may or may not recognize William Hung. If you're old enough to remember the early 2000s when "American Idol" was the hottest show in the universe, you might recall that Hung gained notoriety via the worst singing audition ever recorded. As noted by Business Insider, Hung tried out for the show's third season, and his performance of Ricky Martin's song "She Bangs" was so awesomely terrible, it actually made Hung into a minor celebrity for a while. He even got a record deal.

In May 2004 Hung was invited to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at a game between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays. No one should be surprised that it was terrible. As noted by Fox News, Hung was "off-key" and on-brand as he warbled his way through the song. Reactions were divided — some fans definitely got the joke and sang along, while others booed and complained. The Blue Jays had intended to have him on opening day that year, but the release of his debut album (which is a real, actual thing according to Entertainment Weekly) conflicted with that date.

As noted by Spinditty, William Hung's performance is in the "so bad it is good" category. When you hire a man whose sole claim to fame is being a bad singer, you can't possibly be upset when his performance is absolutely terrible.

Ozzy Osbourne: Worst Ever

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Ozzy Osbourne's 2013 performance of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" is "the undisputed worst ever." All it takes is one listen to decide that they may be onto something.

If you're playing Bad Renditions of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" Bingo at home, Ozzy checks off just about every box. Forgotten lyrics? Yes. Off-pitch warbling? Oh, yes. Professional baseball players leaning out of their dugouts to watch the car crash in fascinated horror? Yup. Ozzy is largely incoherent here, but even the lyrics we can make out are way, way off. NBC Sports notes that Ozzy screws up the very first line (which is also the title of the song) by singing "Let's go out to the ball game," and things get worse from there. The Chicago Tribune offers a hilarious transcription that quickly devolves into gibberish like "Da da da da duh da da da eam."

An article on 106.3 The Buzz makes the assumption that Ozzy was under the influence of something, which certainly makes sense. According to People, Ozzy only got sober around 2014 after a confrontation with his son, Jack, so the timeline, unfortunately, fits. Whether it was a few too many brews at the game or just a complete lack of preparation, the fact remains this may have been Ozzy's worst overall performance.

Eddie Vedder: Blasted and having a blast

Rolling Stone reports that Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder has made singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field in Chicago almost a regular event. These days when he does it, it's a relatively slick affair, with a well-coiffed Vedder doing a sincere effort at the song for the fans.

As noted by the New York Daily News, however, the first time Vedder sang the tune back in 1998 was a very different experience. According to Music Times, Vedder was one of the first celebrities to take on the duty after Cubs announcer Harry Caray passed away that year. Clearly very inebriated, Vedder has a great time warbling through the song with uncertain rhythm and a loose grasp of the lyrics, but the crowd catches his drunken enthusiasm and is okay with the butchering. Vedder even has a bit of fun, substituting "crack" for "Cracker Jacks" (and making some other more adult-oriented substitutions).

It's all obviously meant in good fun, as noted by Spinditty. Vedder is a longtime Chicago Cubs fan, so it's likely that many of the fans at Wrigley Field saw themselves in him as he slurred his way through the song with real joy. After all, why else would they have him back?

David Cross: Singing for laughs

When you bring in a comedian to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," you take the risk of getting a comedy bit instead of a sincere performance. That's exactly what David Cross did in 2013 at Wrigley Field when the actor, best known for his role on "Arrested Development," was invited to sing the song during the seventh-inning stretch. As noted by The Score, Cross' unique interpretation of the classic song included a high-pitched, cartoonish voice that often cracked as he attempted to reach the not-very-high-notes-at-all that the song features.

In what may be a first, NBC Sports notes that Cross actually offers the crowd an apology after he's done, saying "That was awful. Thank you very much. I'm so sorry. Next time, guys. Next time." Whether the song was awful on purpose and the apology was part of the bit or Cross actually was sorry for what he'd just forced everyone to listen to remains an unsolved mystery (though it should be noted that Major League Baseball seems to think the apology was sincere). But the way Cross laughs and smiles at the end implies that he knew exactly what he was doing — and how badly he was doing it. And it kind of worked. Here we are still talking about it all these years later.

Mike Ditka: Fast and super efficient

If you want to know who butchered "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" the most, look to the hometown newspapers. The Chicago Sun-Times ranks former Chicago Bears Head Coach Mike Ditka's 1998 performance as the second-worst ever, and there's evidence to support the conclusion. First of all, Ditka was late to the booth, forcing Steve Stone and Chip Caray to buy time a bit while they waited to see if he'd make it. Huffing and puffing, Ditka doesn't bother with any patter or niceties, just launching into the song like he's dictating plays to a running back. As noted by ABC News, his rendition is super fast — about 20 seconds long — which they memorably describe as "an up-tempo polka." Esquire described it as "aggressive screaming," which feels closer to the truth. NBC Sports clocked it at 26 seconds, which is still pretty fast.

While Ditka's performance was objectively terrible, it was also completely on-brand with his persona as a tough, no-nonsense kind of sports guy, and the crowd offered nothing but love despite his breathless, tuneless approach. In fact, as noted by NESN, Ditka was invited back to Wrigley Field in 2018 to sing again. His performance was almost exactly the same, demonstrating a certain sincerity to his artistry, if nothing else.

Mr. T: Fast and furious

Everybody loves Mr. T. He's a talented athlete and performer, a veteran, and a longtime activist who explained on "The Barbara Walters Special" (via Jet Magazine) that he changed his name to Mr. T because he grew up hearing racists call his father "boy" and wanted to force people to call him "mister" and who chose his hair style and costuming to represent his African heritage and the legacy of slavery. In other words, Mr. T is a thoughtful guy who maybe should have been more thoughtful about his decision to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Wrigley Field in 2009.

Mr. T's performance landed him on the Chicago Sun-Times' list of worst performances in part because he speeds through the song with exactly zero sense of tune or fun. While it's not the fastest version of the song, it definitely feels perfunctory, like Mr. T was getting paid by the word and was determined not to waste any time. Spinditty nails the vibe when it complains that it feels like Mr. T is angrily demanding that you take him to the ballgame immediately.

Some people even managed to put a positive slant on Mr. T's angry-sounding version. NBC 6 South Florida praised the fact that unlike some celebrity singers, Mr. T actually knew all the words to the song, and ended on a high-energy and crowd-pleasing note. When you sing as poorly as Mr. T, you have to look for your bright side where you can find it.

Conor McGregor: Double duty

Conor McGregor is best-known as a mixed martial artist and he's from Ireland, so when the Chicago Sun-Times theorizes that his visit to Wrigley Field in 2021 was his first encounter with both baseball and the song "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," it seems very plausible. He certainly seems unfamiliar with the song, transforming it into a wholly new artistic expression, which is in line with his brash, confident persona. It's no mystery why his nickname is "The Notorious," according to Sportsmanor.

McGregor gets extra points for having a consistently cringe-worthy Wrigley experience. As noted by TMZ, McGregor also threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game, producing what many describe as the worst they had ever seen — especially considering how casually he seems to deliver it. Perhaps winning all those fighting championships gave McGregor the idea that he could do anything.

What saves McGregor is his good attitude. While his first pitch was awful, Outsider notes that he was able to joke about it, declaring it a "devastating" pitch that was just "a little off accurate-wise." And while his rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" was similarly bad, he won the crowd over with his sheer enthusiasm.

Jeff Gordon: Losing the thread

Kicking off your guest spot at Wrigley Field by referring to it as Wrigley Stadium is a sure way to turn the Chicago crowd against you right from the start. But according to the Chicago Sun-Times, that's exactly the strategy NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon pursued when he sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" there in 2005.

With the crowd already surly, Gordon proceeded to butcher the song in new and exciting ways that make you think he had literally never heard it before. At one point he simply stopped singing — but the organist kept playing, so Gordon decided to try and jump back in, with even more disastrous results. NBC Sports notes that adding insult to (ear) injury, Gordon also didn't know the lyrics. At this point, the crowd was openly booing him.

As noted by NBC Chicago, the epic fail haunted Gordon. He admitted that he didn't follow baseball and he didn't want to sing; he wanted to throw out the first pitch. But he says he "got more negative reaction to that than anything" else he had done up to that point. The lesson here is probably that when asked to sing a song in front of tens of thousands of people, maybe at least download the lyrics first and do a practice run.

Scottie Pippen: Dazed and confused

Singing a song in front of a huge crowd is nerve-wracking even for professional singers, so it's understandable that it seriously stresses the non-professionals. Throw in some serious post-season pressure, and even someone used to the spotlight like NBA great Scottie Pippen can fold. And fold he certainly did.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Pippen's performance of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Game Six of the National League Championship series in October, 2016 was "garbled and confused." He starts off fine, then messes up the second line of the song, skips ahead, and then stops for a bit while the crowd sings without him. Then he tries to jump back in and ... fails. If he had the voice of an angel, all might have been forgiven, but he does not. As NBC Sports notes, the only word for this rendition is "dreadful" — and it might have even be worse than Ozzy Osbourne's legendarily bad version.

As Yahoo! Sports makes clear, the Chicago Cubs obviously thought Pippen was the right call for a crucial post-season game in a year when the Cubs were in contention for their first World Series in decades because of his status as a Chicago sports icon. Instead, they got a disaster — but the Cubs would go on to win the game, and eventually the World Series, despite Pippen's bad energy.

Denise Richards: The best of intentions

Denise Richards lost her mother to kidney cancer in 2007, according to TMZ, and on an episode of her reality show "Denise Richards: It's Complicated" in 2009, she had the idea of setting up a charity event for the Kidney Cancer Association in her mom's memory. Richards was born in Illinois, according to the Los Angeles Times, and is a long-time Cubs fan (per the New York Daily News), so she's got more of a connection to the team than most of the celebrities who show up to sing. So far, so sweet. Unfortunately for everyone involved, this led directly to one of the worst performances of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" ever.

Not only does Richards sound, well, terrible, she also actually brings a sheet with the lyrics and suggested patter on it to read from. For reference, the portion of the song that's sung at the seventh-inning stretch is exactly eight lines long and contains all of 57 words, yet Richards apparently couldn't remember them (despite being a long-time Cubs fan). Richards admits she was terrified, though she kept up a brave, smiling face throughout an off-pitch, tone-deaf performance. Richards is very aware of how badly she did, describing her own singing in an interview with The Palm Beach Post as "horrifying" and basically begging everyone to remember that she's not a trained singer.