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March 30, 2009

St. Malachy's Church in North Philadelphia Celebrates Baseball's Greatest Song with Concert on Phillies Opening Day

Historic Organ at St. Malachy's was Built by the Grandfather of Jack Norworth- The Man That Wrote 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'

On Sunday, April 5 at 4 pm, St. Malachy's Church and School, located at 1428 North 11th Street, will proudly host the first-annual 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' concert to celebrate St. Malachy's historic connection to baseball's greatest tune and raise money for the restoration of the St. Malachy's historic 140-year-old Knauff organ. The concert is free and open to all members of the public.

The concert will take place the same day as the World Champions Philadelphia Phillies opening day. The vaudeville-style concert will be led by Tim Wiles, Director of Research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, and will feature a variety of performances from local entertainers and St. Malachy's School students.

'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' was written in 1908 by Philadelphia native Jack Norworth. The man who built St. Malachy's organ-and many others-was Henry Knauff, the grandfather of Jack Norworth. Knauff was a master organ builder who brought fame and esteem to Philadelphia with his innovative organ designs. The connection between the song and St. Malachy's was uncovered by Wiles as he conducted research for his book 'Baseball's Greatest Hit'.

The April 5 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' concert will feature swinging jazz sax by David Demsey of William Paterson University, a rendition of 'Casey at the Bat' by Wiles, barbershop quartet 'Born to Sing', seventh-grade student and classical pianist extraordinaire Marvin Brown and the St. Malachy's Choir. The Abbott and Costello routine "Who's on First" will be performed by local thespians Tony Braithwaite and Joe Mallon.

St. Malachy's students will be on-hand to greet concert visitors and will don historic baseball uniforms that were used by a former St. Malachy's baseball team. Dozens more students will attend the concert to participate in the musical performances and display the baseball and Phillies inspired artwork that they have created in anticipation of the concert.

The goal of the concert is to begin raising the $300,000 that will be needed to restore the historic St. Malachy's organ. The organ suffered damage in a 1997 collapse of the church ceiling. For years, dedicated volunteers have worked to clean, repair and restore the organ, but the $300,000 will be needed to fully return the organ to its original glory.

The concert will last for two hours. A reception and silent auction featuring historic baseball and music items, dinner packages and vacation offerings will immediately following the concert. Wiles will be on-hand to sign copies of his book 'Baseball's Greatest Hit'. $5 from each book sale will benefit the organ fund.

St. Malachy's Church and School is supported by the BLOCS ( organization. BLOCS, led by a dynamic group of Philadelphia business leaders, raises funds so that children of all races and religions can attend Catholic schools, regardless of income level. BLOCS supports and applauds St. Malachy as both a neighborhood and city wide resource.

Tim Wiles, performers, members of the St. Malachy's Church and School community and BLOCS members are available for interviews prior to and on the day of the Take Me Out to the Ball Game Concert. All media inquiries should be directed to Holly Mantle at BLOCS at 215-825-9633 or

For inquiries about the concert and giving options for the organ fund, please contact Sister Cecile Reiley at St. Malachy's at 215-763-1305 or

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About St. Malachy's School
Saint Malachy Catholic Elementary School is located in North Philadelphia. The student population is predominantly African-American and non-Catholic. We believe our purpose is to educate and enrich the lives of our students and all members of the community. We commit ourselves to promote the strong moral character needed to make hard choices, a social sense of self responsibility for self and others and to assure that our students understand and accept that they are the primary determiners of whether they learn in order to make them life-long

Education has tremendous transformative power. BLOCS (Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools) is an independent scholarship organization that believes all children should have access to a high quality education in a safe and nurturing environment, regardless of race, religious belief or income. BLOCS raises funds so children in the Greater Philadelphia region have access to a results-driven education.

BLOCS is supported by more than 70 businesses and corporate partners. The scholarship organization touches more kids in more communities than almost any other private education charity in Philadelphia.

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Donna Farrell
Director of Communications

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