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
1) a home run in baseball with the bases loaded (on all bases); 4 runs scored. 2) in tennis: the player wins all four tennis opens: the French, Wimbledon, Australian and the U.S. 3) in the card game, bridge, when a player takes all 13 tricks.
Sentence 1
Rafael Nadal won 14 and lost 6 grand slam tournaments.
Meaning 2
A super win
Sentence 2
The Republicans scored a home run in the 1952 election when Eisenhower ran for President. The Republicans won both the Senate and the House.

Derivation

The original meaning may have come from baseball.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to reach base, without being called "out," after hitting a ball
Sentence 1
Joe DiMaggio had the longest hitting streak in baseball history, fifty-six consecutive hits, a total of 91 hits, in 1941.
Meaning 2
to do well, to be recognized for something by the public
Sentence 2
You have a hit with your new spring clothing line. Madonna has had many hit songs.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to throw a ball especially well, with a twist, curve, great speed
Sentence 1
The pitcher has something on the ball and struck out the batter.
Meaning 2
capable and skilled
Sentence 2
We should hire her. She has a lot on the ball.

Derivation

In baseball, the pitcher plays a more important role than in the English rounders from which baseball developed (The first baseball game was played in l847). By spinning the ball, usually by using saliva or spit, American pitchers could strike out batters easily. He was then said to "have something on the ball." The expression was soon used to mean anyone who is effective or skilled at what he does. In 1920 the "spitball" rule began. This stated that any pitcher putting any "foreign substance" on the ball would be suspended from playing.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
He is next in the lineup to bat.
Sentence 1
There are two on (base) and Babe Ruth is up.
Meaning 2
He or she is next.
Sentence 2
You're up. They want you to speak next.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A ball hit hard up the middle might score a hit, the batter reaching base safely. It also might help help a runner on 3rd score a run.
Sentence 1
Derek Jeter hit a ball hard up the middle.
Meaning 2
being aggressive rather than "cute or clever"
Sentence 2
“This wasn’t the time for compromise. With Trump and Cruz fighting for the nomination, Democrats and Obama should drive the ball hard up the middle and quit trying to be cute and clever.“ Principia in St. Louis
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to hit the ball so hard that the batter can circle the bases and score a run
Sentence 1
Barry Bonds hit 70 home runs in 2001.
Meaning 2
to do something well to be a winner
Sentence 2
You scored a home run with that presentation. I think we'll get the contract.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the ball has been hit in the ballpark
Sentence 1
The batter has a triple; it is still in the ball park. He hit it out of the park yesterday. He had a home run.
Meaning 2
"In the ballpark" is a common idiom used in business or politics, usually in negotiations. If a number is in the ball park, it could be considered worth negotiating. It is not a final agreement. If it is "out of the park, " it probably is not worth agonizing over to achieve a settlement.
Sentence 2
One million dollars is worth talking about. It is in the ballpark.

Derivation

The ballpark is probably derived from a baseball park.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
throwing the ball or another object such as a horseshoe
Sentence 1
He is in there pitching the ball to the batter.
Meaning 2
trying hard to do one's best
Sentence 2
Jane is always in there pitching for our legal team.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
There are 9 innings in an American baseball game. A game will go into overtime when there is a tie, for instance 2 to 2.
Sentence 1
The Yankees won the ball game in the 9th inning, 5 to 2 runs.
Meaning 2
Part of a ballgame, whether baseball or in business or pleasure.
Sentence 2
"It is now the President's inning, and he has the masses of people behind him." (From "The Bully Pulpit," a book by Doris Kearns Goodwin about President Theodore Roosevelt.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Baseball has nine innings unless the game is tied; then they go overtime. If a team is behind in the bottom of the ninth, it is their last chance to win the game.
Sentence 1
The home team was behind 3 to 2 in the bottom of the ninth. It was the team's last chance to win.
Meaning 2
It's the last chance to win.
Sentence 2
A business is trying to win a contract. Their opponents are ahead of them. They have one more chance to win the contract. It's the bottom of the ninth.