IDIOM ►

have something on the ball, a lot on the ball, on the ball

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.