We’ve been knee deep in baseball books this past year, and aside from interactions with the charming authors and a new understanding of America’s favorite pastime, what has been most delightful is discovering the richness of baseball language.
Old-fashioned, descriptive, passionate and creative, baseball terminology presents a verbal feast unmatched by any industry accessible to minors. And though much of it may have been coined before Branch Rickey was weaned, it’s not obsolete: sportswriters and sportscasters use these expressions regularly, without the least facetiousness. Their freedom and delight with language are inspirational.
Baseball season is nigh. Whether Grapefruit League or Cactus, teams have lathered on the sunscreen and started Spring Training. While they’re warming up, we should, too. To honor the season, let’s all commit to putting some earnest, old-school expressiveness into our writing, whatever our subject.
To get you loosened up, here are a few great baseball expressions and their definitions from the MLB Stylebook:
DAISY CUTTER: A sharply hit ground ball
MEATBALL: An easy pitch to hit
RINGING THE DINNER BELL: a grand slam, everyone goes home
THROUGH THE WICKET: A ball hit between the fielder’s legs
TOOLS OF IGNORANCE: catcher’s equipment
Don’t get caught looking. Fungoes are swinging, and the mercury’s rising. It’s time to knock off the stiffness of a long winter and stretch out. Get your hyperbolic, metaphoric, anthropomorphic game on. Stretch that mother tongue.
Who knows what the season has in store? If you don’t get called a bush league writer for using slang, your newfound eloquence could finally get you that cup of coffee, or at least earn you respect as a gamer.
For baseball lingo and lore old and new, check out Houston Astros: Deep in the Heart from Expansion to the World Series, Biggio: The Final Game, and, coming Opening Day, Houston Baseball: The Early Years 1861-1961.
Bright Sky Press: Where Texas Meets Books Baseball