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Baseball Music and Songs at the Library of Congress

Search Strategies

The Music Division holds one of the largest collections in the world of popular sheet music. Most of these works, however, are not cataloged but rather are classified only (assigned a classification number but not cataloged) or are filed by their copyright registration numbers and require additional searching and consultation with Music Division staff. For ease of use, every entry in Baseball’s Greatest Hits: An Annotated Bibliography of Baseball Music and Songs includes a shelfmark and/or a copyright registration number (if the item was retained among the offsite copyright deposits) as well as a link to digital scans when available.

One frequently asked question is how did we discover so many baseball-related works. Our search strategies employed a wide variety of resources ranging from published books and articles, inventories from collections held in other libraries, data from the Catalog of Copyright Entries for Musical Compositions, auction catalogs, listings on eBay and similar online websites and databases, as well as our online and card catalogs.

Once a song’s title and composer had been ascertained, determining if and where it was located in the Library was best accomplished using one of three search strategies:

The highest percentage of baseball repertoire can be found within the M classification numbers listed below.

The remaining 52% of baseball scores that are not part of the M1977-M1978 materials are scattered among five dozen separate classifications specific to instrumental works, compositions with a spiritual perspective, or songs with affiliations to films or musical shows, etc. Other M classifications containing significant examples of baseball repertoire are listed below.


Close to 60 pieces (7%) are selections of popular sheet music from the M1508 class [vocal excerpts from motion pictures and musical shows], organized by the title of the show. The Library's It's Showtime! Sheet Music from Stage and Screen database allows researchers to search our M1508 holdings by show title, song title, composer, and lyricist. The database does not provide access to digitized scores.

Also among those 60 works are materials in the M1527 class [scores for specific silent or sound films (may include piano scores, full scores, and/or sets of orchestral parts)]. Two research guides that can help navigate our extensive film-related holdings are listed below.



J. H. Kalbfleisch, composer. "The Live Oak Polka," 1860. Library of Congress Music Division.

Another 7% of the Music Division’s baseball music is located among the M classes for instrumental marches [M28]; dances [M30]; as well as two-rhythm-polkas [M31] or three-rhythm waltzes [M32]. Examples of these instrumental works are most commonly found in baseball repertoire (and the popular American music repertoire in general) published in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; some of the most spectacular covers with colored lithographs depicting baseball scenes are among the nineteenth-century materials.


Music from these two classes combined comprise about 8% of our baseball repertoire. In general, songs by turn-of-the-century Tin Pan Alley composers that are not tied to a specific musical theater production or motion picture are frequently found under these two call numbers.

Within these classifications, sheet music is filed by the composer's last name. For example, Albert Von Tilzer’s "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and his song "Did He Run" are both cataloged under M1622.V. See the Take Me Out To the Ball Game page of this research guide for more information on this beloved song.

The song "Brain Storms" provides another excellent example of songs found in the M1622 class. "Brain Storms" has a baseball connection through its cover art, which includes a small drawing of a baseball catcher inside an old man’s brain. Signed by the exceptional illustrator Andréa Stephen Chevalier De Takacs, whose work appears on several of Benjamin Hapgood Burt’s sheet music covers. The inclusion of baseball, an automobile, roaches, card games, and references to then-President Teddy Roosevelt suggests what might have been in the 1907 zeitgeist.

Benjamin Hapgood Burt, composer and lyricist. "Brain Storms," 1907. M1622.B. Library of Congress Music Division.

Since 1870, the U.S. Copyright Office has been located in the Library of Congress, and historically, copyright registrations have provided a rich and unique source of acquisitions for the Music Division's collections. The vast majority of the Music Division's popular songs and instrumental scores related to baseball were acquired through copyright submission; many of these materials received full cataloging for this project and are included in the Music Division’s on-site stacks; many more pieces are not cataloged but rather are housed offsite, organized by their copyright registration number. Copyright deposits housed offsite may be retrieved upon request through the Ask-A-Librarian reference service.

Baseball materials that were part of special collections were found by searching across all of the Library's processed special collections using the Finding Aids database.

Special collections in the Music Division consist of the papers of individuals, companies, and collectors significant to research in music, theater, and dance. Only a small percentage of the Music Division's baseball music is located among the over 500 special collections in Music, Theater and Dance. These are listed below.