Baseball, is arguably the American National pasttime. A quick look around my office and there’s baseball everywhere from the poster of past Sox stand-outs to an Albert Pujols collage from his Cardinal days, a framed picture from the Chicago Cubs historical first night game, and a couple of care-worn old leather baseballs sitting on a shelf. A lifetime of watching baseball, playing open field pick-up games with the neighborhood kids, becoming an athlete’s wife, then mother and now grandmother of athletes, not to mention a lifelong St Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox fan has taught me a thing or two or three about the sport – sure; but the language of the field and its inhabitants are curiously fascinating in itself.
Many of our common references stem from baseball. There’s: home run, strikeout, 3 strikes and you’re out, batter up, take your place on the field, the big show, big leagues, get your head in the game, put me in coach, take one for the team, crossing the plate, foul ball, bases loaded, crossing a line, being on deck, tipping your hat, swinging for the fences, batting 1000, leaving the rubber, being picked off, doubling up, tossed out, thrown out, let’s play 2, doing a double-header, coming up lame, sliding into home, inside the park home run, hit it out of the park, double play, walk around the park, take your base, chalk it up, it’s dejavu all over again, and my favorite — it ain’t over ’til it’s over, are some that come to mind. I’ve personally interjected all of these idioms at one time or another while discussing just about anything that isn’t even remotely related to baseball save the baseball reference itself. These have been used in casual conversation, political speeches, workplace management motivation, commercials, plays, books, movies, billboards, and pretty much anything and everything.
There’s that, but there all so many more just drop-em-and-leave phrases that are acceptable during the course of a game each with its own hidden or special meaning. These are thrown out as if they made complete sense. They make complete sense to a baseball officinato, but are probably silly or meaningless to non-baseball followers.
Baseball is a language unto itself. For example: it’s a can of corn, rubber game, leave your feet, duck snort, Texas-leaguer, dInger, 2-bagger, easy fly out, bloop single, boot the ball, run through the bag, steal base, throwing leather, good fielding, big stick, power-hitter, southpaw, left-handed pitcher, rag arm, Tommy John surgery, sore arm, ducks on the pond, tools of ignorance, catching gear, here batter batter -swing, right size-wrong shape, touch ’em all, call it in the outfield, grease under the cap, spit ball, put it on the board, fire baller, hard thrower, spittin’ seeds, chawin’, scratch in’ it out, wild pitch, suicide bunt, fell off the shelf, round-tripper, lost in the lights, bounced off the wall, fan interference, rally cap, hat trick, knuckleballer, spin on the ball, automatic double, just this side of the pole, in the dirt, and an endless handbook of slang.
Baseball and its language are just part of who we are – the fabric of our lives so to speak. I know for sure it’s part of who I am. It’s imprinted on our hearts and minds and is a partner in our everyday lives even for those who are not sports fans. So go out and make this a day to remember. Get in the game and don’t worry about striking out. Just swing for the fences, hit the ball out of the park, and make it a home run. Go get ’em! … Sandy