Baseball Idioms

Baseball was the most popular sport in the United States, now overtaken by American Football and car racing (NASCAR).  Some still call it the national sport.

“Major League” baseball teams have the best professional players and more “fans” or people who watch the games. A baseball team has nine players: the pitcher, the catcher, first, second and third basemen, the shortstop, the left, center and right fielders. Baseball is played on four bases, first, second, third and home, on a diamond shaped field. The pitcher, the catcher, the basemen and the shortstop play in the infield. The fielders play in the “outfield” or the area around the infield. The pitcher throws (pitches) a ball to a “batter” on the opposing team, who tries to hit the ball with a “bat” and run around the bases.

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The batter gets a “hit” unless 1) the ball is caught before it hits the ground; 2) he is “tagged” with the ball when he is not on a base or 3) the ball is thrown and caught at first base, and in some circumstances at other bases, before he gets there. The batter is allowed three “strikes” and then he “strikes out.”  A strike is any ball which crosses the plate between the top of the batter’s shoulders and his knees and is not hit by the batter. A “ball” is any pitched ball which is outside this strike zone and is not swung at by the batter. The batter is allowed to “walk” to first base if the pitcher throws four “balls.” Players make an “error” if they make a mistake on a “play” that should have resulted in an out.

Each team bats until it makes three outs. An “inning” has been played when both teams have made three outs. A game is nine innings unless the score is “tied” at the end of nine innings. Then the game is played extra innings until one team has more “runs” at the end of the extra innings. A run is scored when a player runs around all the bases and touches the last or “home” plate or base. The team with the most “runs” wins.

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IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The game was postponed because of rain. (The game could be postponed for any reason, but the term is "rain check".) The rain check itself is the ticket that can be exchanged for a ticket at a later date.
Sentence 1
The Phillies' game was postponed because of rain, and the spectators were given another ticket for a future game.
Meaning 2
a postponement with a promise of a future meeting
Sentence 2
"Something has come up, and I can't make our luncheon meeting. How about a raincheck? "
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A new game has started.
Sentence 1
Let's beat them this time. It's another ball game.
Meaning 2
The old idea, event or business deal is over. One has a better chance of winning or achieving a goal this time.
Sentence 2
Now that we have a new manager, it's another ball game.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
place where baseball is played
Sentence 1
Let's go to the ball park on Saturday and see the Mets play.
Meaning 2
a general, rather than precise figure; a "ballpark" implies a rather large area.
Sentence 2
I need a ball park figure on what the contract will cost.

Derivation

The term ball park is derived from the time when baseball was played before a few people in parks rather than stadiums.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
There are men on all bases except home base.
Sentence 1
The bases are loaded and their best hitter is up to bat.
Meaning 2
to have an advantage
Sentence 2
Our bases are loaded. We should win the contract. We have more money and expertise than they do.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
same as "to be in the major leagues"
Sentence 1
Jackie Robinson was the first black player to be in the big leagues.
Meaning 2
to be a big shot, to be a major player, to be well-known
Sentence 2
You're in the big leagues now.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to make an error, to drop a ball in sports
Sentence 1
Willie Mays, who played for the San Francisco Giants, rarely dropped a ball.
Meaning 2
to blunder, to fail in some way
Sentence 2
We sure dropped the ball that time. We forgot to update our information.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Balls can be thrown as fast as ninety to a hundred miles an hour.
Sentence 1
The pitcher threw a fast ball and struck out the batter.
Meaning 2
to not understand a statement or fact; to lose an opportunity because an opponent or competitor is quicker.
Sentence 2
I'm sorry I didn't get the contract. Their team threw a fast ball. They talked to the other company first.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a foul ball is a ball hit by the batter outside the baseball line of play
Sentence 1
The first ball hit by the batter was a foul ball and declared a strike by the umpire. Fouls count as strikes except for the third foul.
Meaning 2
a foul ball is generally ineffective; it is out of the field of play and is not relevant to the mission.
Sentence 2
He hit a foul ball. His comment was not effective; it did not accomplish anything!
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A player is out if he doesn't hit the ball hard enough to get to first base and is tagged out. If he gets to first base, he may score a run.
Sentence 1
The batter hit a line drive and got to first base.
Meaning 2
to advance something, to do well enough to get a good start on something
Sentence 2
I wish I could get to first base with my boss.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
in baseball a batter can "pinch hit" or substitute for another batter
Sentence 1
Send in the first baseman to bat for the pitcher.
Meaning 2
to substitute for someone; to support someone
Sentence 2
Will you go to bat for Jane? She's trying to get a promotion.