'Take Me Out' to the monument

"He is the Francis Scott Key of baseball, and whatever you can do to preserve his memory and legacy, it's definitely something baseball fans should get involved with."

That's what Los Angeles Dodgers team historian Mark Langill told me last week in response to a growing movement by fans who want to preserve and honor the dilapidated grave site of Jack Norworth, the man who composed the words to baseball's national anthem, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," in 1908.

See, I'd written a follow-up article after AOL News published my piece on Norworth's weather-beaten marker at Melrose Abbey Memorial Park, just a few minutes from Angel Stadium.

J.P. Myers, a 47-year-old blood courier from Diamond Bar, formed a Facebook page devoted to honoring the man who penned an American classic.

Myers' "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" Monument for Jack Norworth page on Facebook quickly attracted hundreds of members. He reached out to the media, sending e-mails to various newspapers and broadcasters.

KFI-AM, a talk radio station in Los Angeles, met Myers at the site for a feature.

Maria and Charles Sotelo, who run High Desert Monuments in Hesperia, heard the piece and stepped up to the plate, offering to re-create a new marker for Norworth, free of charge.

"This has been our family business for more than 60 years," Maria Sotelo told AOL News, "and it would be an honor to do something to help recognize this important American."

Well, one thing has led to another, and so I thought I'd share that next week, there will in fact be an unveiling of a marker honoring Norworth at the cemetery where he is laid to rest.

A fan named Jamie Chisick stepped up to the plate to donate money for the plot where the marker will be placed, as did Doug and Nancy Sebastian from KinderVision, the national child safety education program dedicated to the protection of children from abduction and sexual exploitation that you may have read about in this column recently.

This entire process has been a whirlwind of good will, a movement of fans and supporters who simply wanted to honor a great American.

By no small bit of luck, as you may know, Major League Baseball's All-Star Game will be played in Anaheim on July 13, so with all the focus over there, I'm hoping we can make a lot of people aware of this news.

As of this writing, it's looking like the ceremony will take place Sunday morning, but given how fast and furious things are happening, that could change to Monday. If you're interested in attending, write me an e-mail, as I'll be providing updates.

As some of you may know, I'm a big baseball fan. I've written a few baseball history books. And this entire episode has my head spinning (in a good way) because it looks like it will result in a bit of baseball history being made in the placement of this marker.

We're used to fans making a difference inside the ballpark. Today, however, outside the park, some extra-passionate followers are taking things further, helping to preserve baseball history based on their simple love of the game. And it is an honor to help them facilitate their dream.

[jim dash]

I'll be signing and discussing my new book, "Hello, It's Me – Dispatches from a Pop Culture Junkie" at 6 p.m. July 17 at Barnes & Noble at Bella Terra, 7777 Edinger Ave. in Huntington Beach. We may have a couple of special guests, but for sure we will have lots of good stories from this that spans adventures from the last 40 years or so. I look forward to seeing you.

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