Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
List of baseball jargon
The following is an alphabetical list of unofficial terms, phrases, and other jargon used in baseball, and explanations of their meanings. See also baseball slang for slang in general usage that originated in baseball.
- 1-1 (i.e., "one and one"), also, 0-1, 1-0, 1-2, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2
- Instances of the "pitch count," the number of balls and strikes, in that order, currently totaled for the batter.
- Baltimore chop
- A ball hit so that it makes contact with home plate, then takes a high bounce over the infield, usually for a base hit.
- The pitcher and catcher.
- A pitch intentionally thrown to hit the batter.
- bottom of the inning
- The second half of an inning, during which the home team bats.
- A pitch intentionally thrown close to a batter to intimidate or misdirect. Also chin-music.
- To make a horrible defensive error that costs the team the game.
- Cactus League
- The group of teams that conduct their pre-season exhibition games in Arizona.
- can of corn
- An easily-caught fly ball. It may also be used in reference to acknowledging something or used when one is in mild excitement.
- chase after
- Swinging at a pitch well outside of the strike zone.
- check the runner
- When the pitcher looks in the direction of a runner on base, and thereby causes him to not take as large of a lead as he would otherwise have taken.
- The fourth batter for a team, usually a power hitter. The idea is to get some runners on base for the "cleanup" hitter to drive home.
- A relief pitcher who is consistently used to get the final outs in games. Closers are often among the most overpowering pitchers.
- good performance under pressure or when the chips are down/when good performance really matters (such a period is referred to as being "in the clutch.") May refer to a player (a good "clutch hitter") or to a team as a whole. For example, a player who hits many home runs but strikes out in crucial win-or-lose moments "can't hit in the clutch." (See Sammy Sosa.) The existence of "clutch" is a controversial and divisive topic among baseball fans, in part because no one has been able to devise a baseball statistic that incontrovertibly demonstrates its existence.
- 'Cut off'
- Refers either to a cut-off man who shortens the throw or to cut off the ball.
- Home run. Also homer, round-tripper. See more nicknames in the article home run.
- down the line
- On the field near the foul lines, often used to describe the location of batted balls.
- down the middle
- Over the middle portion of home plate, used to describe the location of pitches.
- drop off the table
- When a pitched ball (e.g., a curveball) breaks extremely sharply.
- dying quail
- A weak fly ball that lands just past the infield, appearing to "die".
- defensive indifference
- A play in which a runner advances to the next base without a throw from the catcher or without any fielder attempting to cover the bag to accept a throw from the catcher. The runner then does not get credit for a stolen base because his action was not challenged in any way. This usually occurs in a game in which the score is heavily favored towards one team and a runner advancing a base will not make a large difference in the expected outcome of the game.
- full count
- A count of 3 balls and 2 strikes, that is, no more balls or strikes can occur without a result.
- fouling off
- Batting a pitch foul with two strikes, in order to keep the at bat going
- Golden Sombrero
- One who strikes out four times in one game is said to have gotten the Golden Sombrero.
- swinging at an obvious ball, particularly one pitched low or in the dirt. Also, golfing can be used to describe actual contact with a pitch low in the zone (he golfed that one for a home run).
- Grapefruit League
- The group of teams that conduct their pre-season exhibition games in Florida.
- high and tight
- High, or above the strike zone, and close to the batter, used to describe the location of pitches.
- hitting for the cycle
- Hit a single, double, triple and home run in the same game. To accomplish this feat in order is termed a "progressive cycle."
- hot corner
- The third base fielding position, so called because many batted balls arrive very quickly to the position.
- in the hole
- On the infield at a location nearly exactly between fielders, used to describe the location of batted balls.
- A Home Run, as in, "Hitting a jack" or "Jacking one out of here"
- Strikeout. A backwards K is sometimes used to denote a strikeout looking and forwards to indicate a strikeout swinging.
- lead off (batting order)
- The player who is first in the batting order for a given team.
- lead off (base running)
- When a base runner steps off of the base in order to reduce the distance to the next base, before a pitch is thrown.
- load the bases
- The act of causing runners to occupy the three numbered bases (first, second, and third bases).
- Mendoza line
- A batting average of .200. Batters hitting below .200 are colloquially said to be below the Mendoza line. Named for Mario Mendoza, a notoriously poor hitter of the 1970s.
- middle of the inning
- The few minutes that lapse between the top and bottom of an inning when the away team takes field to defend, and the home team prepares to bat. No gameplay occurs during this period. Television and radio broadcasts run commercial breaks during the middle of an inning. See also seventh-inning stretch.
- Merkle Boner
- Mental error that causes cost team the game, a good example would be forgetting the number of outs and tossing the ball into the stands, allow runners to advance.
Origin: Rookie Giant firstbaseman Fred Merkle singled to right field with two outs and a runner on first in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied. The next batter, Al Bridwell, hit a single to center which scored the baserunner Moose McCormick. Seeing McCormick cross the plate, Merkle - as was the custom of the time in such situations - headed for the Giant clubhouse in center field. Cub secondbaseman Johnny Evers - a stickler for rules - noticed that Merkle had not gone on to touch second. Evers called for the ball (whether it was the genuine ball that was hit is debatable), tagged second and appealed to umpire Bob Emslie who did not see the play and refused to make the call. He appealed to his partner, the famous Hank O'Day who granted Evan's appeal and called Merkle out on a force play. The Giants had left the field, celebrating their victory when umpire O'Day declared the game a tie. When the game was made up on October 8th with the Giants and Cubs tied in the standings, the Giants lost the game - and lost the pennant.
"Both bonehead, meaning "stupid," and boner, meaning "a ridiculous blunder," predate that fateful September day, but there's no doubt that Merkle's boner did a lot to solidify the place of both terms in our language." - Merriam Webster's Word For The Wise
- outside corner
- Over the edge of home plate away from the batter, used to describe the location of pitches.
- payoff pitch
- A pitch made when the pitch count is full, i.e., when three balls and two strikes have been totaled for the batter. The implication is that much effort has gone into reaching this point (this is at least the sixth pitch of the at bat), and the pitch will either pay off for the pitcher (resulting in a strikeout) or the batter (resulting in a hit or a walk). This is not always so, though, as a foul would extend the length of the at bat.
- where a hitter is caught between to bases. There is two basemen on either side of him, throwing the ball back and forth until the hitter it tagged out.
- pinch hitter
- A hitter substituted, mid-inning, for the scheduled batter. Often, a pinch hitter is brought in during a critical situation to replace a weak batter (usually the pitcher, in the National League)
- pitch out
- A pitch that is so far outside that it can't be hit. The catcher catches the pitch standing to allow a quick throw to try picking off a runner.
- position player
- A non-pitcher.
- power hitter
- A powerful batter who hits many home runs and extra base hits, but who also may not have a high batting average, due to an "all or nothing" hitting approach. Also slugger.
- A play in which a runner is stranded between two bases, and runs back and forth to avoid fielders with the ball. The fielders toss the ball back and forth, to prevent the runner from getting to a base, and eventually close in on him and tag him. Also called a pickle.
- Ruthian Blast
- A Home run that travels very far.
- safety squeeze
- A squeeze play in which the runner on third waits for the batter to lay down a successful bunt before breaking for home. Contrast this with the suicide squeeze.
- setup man
- A relief pitcher who is consistently used immediately before the closer.
- seventh-inning stretch
- The period between the top and bottom of the seventh inning, when the fans present traditionally stand up to stretch their legs. A sing-along of the song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" has become part of this tradition, a practice most associated with Chicago broadcaster Harry Caray. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, "God Bless America" is sometimes played in addition to, or in lieu of, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in rememberence of those who lost their lives in the attacks.
- shoestring catch
- When a fielder, usually an outfielder, catches a ball just before it hits the ground, and remains running while doing so.
- slice foul
- When a fly ball or line drive starts out over fair territory, then curves into foul territory due to aerodynamic force caused by spinning of the ball, imparted by the bat. A slice which curves to the right is not to be confused with a hook which curves to the left.
- A slide is when a player drops to the ground when going into a base to avoid a tag.
- sophomore jinx
- The tendency for players to follow a good rookie season with a less-spectacular one. (This term is used outside the realm of baseball as well.) Two of the most notorious examples are Joe Charboneau and Mark Fidrych.
- squeeze play
- A tactic used to attempt to score a runner from third on a bunt. There are two types of squeeze plays: suicide squeeze and safety squeeze.
- A pitcher who throws underarm.
- suicide squeeze
- A squeeze play in which the runner on third breaks for home on the pitch, so that, if the batter does not lay down a bunt, then the runner is an easy out. Contrast this with the safety squeeze.
- take sign
- A sign given to a batter to not swing at the next pitch.
- Texas Leaguer
- A weakly hit fly ball that drops in for a single between an infielder and an outfielder.
- Tommy John surgery
- A type of elbow surgery for pitchers named after Tommy John, a pitcher and the first professional athlete to successfully undergo the operation.
- top of the inning
- The first half of an inning, during which the visiting team bats.
- up the middle
- On the field very close to second base, used to describe the location of batted balls.
- upper decker
- A home run that lands in the stadium's upper deck of seating.
- walk-off home run
- A game-ending home run. The walk-off derives from the fact that the victims of such a hit will often walk off the field, seemingly in disgust or despair.
- warning track
- The dirt, as opposed to grass, area bordering the outfield fence. It is intended to prevent outfielders from inadvertently running into the fence.
- To hit a pitcher so well, that mentally he never pitches as well again
Yard -- To hit a home run as in "Go Yard" "He went Yard"
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