Diamond Notes: Baseball Expressions I

dp logo1

By: Austin Alexander-August 13, 2007

dp logo1Whether I find myself in the mix of casual baseball people or those who consider themselves “diehard fans”, I continue to be amazed when folks don’t know the language of baseball.

Over the next few weeks we will explore The Dickson Baseball Dictionary and pull terms out of it that you need to know, what they mean and where the expression originated. Hopefully at the end of our little quest through diamond diction, you will have a greater knowledge of the jargon used around our nation’s pastime…you may not be a baseball genius but you might learn just enough to fool some people!

Can-of-corn: A high fly ball that allows a defensive player time to stand under the ball and catch it easily.

This expression comes from the old time grocery store where the grocer used a pole to tip an item, such as a can of corn, off a high shelf and let it tumble into his apron, which was held out in front of him. It can be used this way, “Andruw Jones settled under that can-of-corn for out number two.”

Mendoza Line: Figurative boundary in the batting averages between those batters hitting above and below the .200 mark.

Named for light-hitting Mario Mendoza who played for the Pirates, Mariners and Rangers between 1974 and 1982, his lifetime batting average was just over .200. Hitters that are hovering above or below this low-water mark are said to be “flirting with the Mendoza line.” To the layman, this is not a good thing!

Ribby: Slang for RBI or Run Batted In.

Use of this baseball idiom may go like this, “David Ortiz led all of Major League Baseball this year with 147 ribby’s.”

Yakker/Bender/Uncle Charlie: A sharp-breaking curveball.

The etymology of these terms is traced back to the late 1970’s and, then-starting pitcher, Dennis Eckersley. The Hall of Famer is said to have coined an array of baseball slang, he’s known to have had baseball’s greatest vernacular…next to Yogi Berra and Casey Stengal of course! Used in a sentence, it may sound something like, “Josh Beckett’s yakker/bender is really keeping hitters off-balance today.”

Tools of ignorance: Catcher’s equipment-the mask, shinguards, chest protector, helmet and mitt.

The term is based on the notion that catching is a grueling, painful job that a smart player would try to avoid.

Kitchen: The area of a batter’s torso. A pitch that rides in on a hitter.

When a pitcher crowds a batter with a pitch, he is often said to be in the hitter’s “kitchen”. This expression is as old as baseball itself. If a batter got jammed and broke his bat, older players used to say, “He got in his kitchen and broke a few dishes.” Or, “He rattled a few pots-n-pans in Pujols’ kitchen.”

Dinger/Bomb/Big Fly/Tater/Gonzo/Round tripper/Ya-Ya/Clout/Moon shot: A homerun.

Each word above, to name a few, can all be used to describe the sexiest thing in sports-The Homerun! Whatever you chose to call them, Barry Bonds has 758 of them.

Enough for today’s lesson, more to come next month…