Baseball Terms – The Funny and Unusual
Consider yourself an expert if you know what the following baseball terms are:
Slide Step, The Mendoza Line, Tools of Ignorance, Defensive indifference, Golden Sombrero
If you pride yourself in knowing the game of baseball, you should know all of the above. Many of the baseball terms are unique to the sport. For example, one baseball name that caught on many years ago has to do with hitting futility. It generally takes a superstar to get your name associated with an achievement, like Reggie Jackson being Mr. October. But, not always, as players hitting below the “Mendoza line” are in danger of losing their jobs. For those unfamiliar with the language of baseball, read on and learn so you can keep up with all baseball conversations.
Baseball is not only the greatest game ever invented, it also has the most electrifying language of all the sports. The casual baseball fan will have his head spinning after listening to the many unusual and funny baseball terms. Without knowledge of the language of baseball, listeners get lost wondering what the heck just happened. The person who invented baseball would be proud of what the game has become but may wonder if people are talking about the same game with so many ways of saying the same thing.
Just for A home run alone, the announcer may say, Touch em all Mr. Stanton, or Mike Trout jacked another, or Miguel Cabrera parked it, or Big Papi went yard, or there goes another Josh Donaldson round tripper, or Kris Bryant hit a tater, or another dinger for Albert Pujols, or the pitcher let up a gopher ball, and so on. If you listen to the Chicago White Sox announcer Ken Harrelson you will get a “You can put it on the board, yes!” for a home run. Of course, a long ball with the bases loaded may be called a Grand Salami.
That last statement is one of many reasons you should never go to a baseball game hungry, and not only because of the high prices. Baseball gives fans many subliminal messages with all its food related language.
Following are some of the terms that have people thinking of the concession stand.
“Snow cone” or “ice cream cone” describes a completed catch when the ball is half out of the glove.
“Cheese” or “cheddar” describes some serious fast pitches. “Mustard” is another food item used to define the “high hard one.”
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“Can of corn” is an easily caught fly ball.
A “Cookie” is a pitch right in the batter’s wheelhouse.
“Cup of coffee” is a ballplayers short stint in the “big show” (Major Leagues).
A “table setter” is the player who is in charge of getting on base for the “big boppers.”
“Dish” is another word for home plate.
A “Pickle” occurs when a baserunner gets trapped between two bases.
Following is a glossary of the more unusual and often funny baseball terms.
Baseball Terms Glossary – Pitcher Talk
Slide Step – With runners on base and a stealing situation, pitchers get rid of the ball sooner with an abbreviated or no leg kick.
Cheese, cheddar, aspirin tablet – very fast pitches
Paint – A pitcher that continually places pitches on the edges of the strike zone is known to paint the corners, “locate” well and have “command.”
Flying open – when pitchers get wild it often is from opening their front side too soon thus altering their release point.
Late Movement – pitches that wait until they are close to home before moving in some direction have this.
Pitching backward – a pitcher who throws off-speed pitches when hitters expect fastball counts and fastballs when pitchers think batters would expect breaking balls.
Lose a hitter – walking a batter after being ahead in the count
Backdoor – When pitchers try to bring pitches from off the strike zone across the outside corner.
Back foot breaking ball (slider) – the opposite of the back door pitch, this ball is thrown in the middle of the plate with the goal of breaking to the back foot of the batter.
Change eye level – pitches that follow low pitches with high ones or vice versa.
Climb the ladder – pitches that get a little higher with each subsequent pitch.
Brush back, purpose pitch, chin music – a pitch thrown very close to the hitters upper body to get them to move off the plate or send a message.
Cutter – A pitch that is in between a fastball and slider that moves little but late away from the pitchers arm side.
Splitter – a type of fastball gripped with fingers wide so the ball drops in the contact zone. Similar to the “forkball.”
Screwball – a pitch that moves the opposite way from a curve ball, where the pitcher rotates his hand with more pronation.
Stopper – the pitcher on the staff who puts an end to losing streaks
Fireman or closer – the pitcher in charge of finishing games when his team has the lead to get the “save” and “shut the door.”
Uncle Charlie, deuce, yakker, yellow hammer, Lord Charles – all are breaking balls, usually very good ones that appear to “Pull the string” on the ball.
Mound, rubber, hill, bump – where the pitcher pitches from
Mistake – a pitch that the pitcher wishes he had never thrown
Baseball term about hitting a baseball
Step in the bucket – a batter who steps away from home plate away from the strike zone, instead of into the ball.
Hit and run – an offensive play when the batter swings at the pitch no matter where it is with the intention of putting it in play on the ground to advance a stealing runner.
Swinging bunt, dribbler, squibber, nubber, tapper – a very weakly hit ground ball
Chase the pitch – batters who swing at an obvious non-strike pitch because they were “fooled by the pitch.”
Sitting on a pitch – when batters look for one specific pitch in one location and only swings when that pitch comes. Usually means a batter is sitting “dead red” – on the fastball.
Check swing – when batters hold up without swinging and without rolling their wrists
Rolling over – when hitters roll their wrist too soon at contact leading to a ground ball to their pull side.
Cleanup hitter, – the fourth batter in the inning, who is supposed to knock in the first three batters in the batting order.
In the hole – the batter who follows the on-deck hitter.
Green light – a hitter who has the OK to swing, usually said with a two or three ball count and no strikes.
Ground rule double – a batted ball that jumps over the fence leading to the batter being awarded second base.
In the gap – a ball hit between (tweener) and past the center fielder and one of the other outfielders “in the alley”
Wheelhouse – a pitch in the zone where the batter has the most success with hitting hard
Whiff – a swing and miss
Excuse me swing – one where the batter tries to hold up but still manages to put the ball in play
The Mendoza line – when the batter has a below two hundred batting average. Also known as hitting a “buck and change” or of being “on the interstate.”
Texas leaguer, dying quail, duck snort, blooper, bleeder – a weakly hit ball to the outfield that falls in for a base hit.
Seeing Eye base hit – a batted ball that bounces multiple times but still makes it past the infielders
Frozen rope, screamer – a solidly hit line drive, also “He smoked, tattooed, teed off, ripped or walloped the ball.”
Mistake hitter – usually not a very good hitter but one who feasts on poorly thrown pitches (mistakes)
Collar – a batter who does not get a hit in the game
Punch and Judy – a batter who does not hit the ball very hard, also known as a “banjo hitter” who uses a “wet newspaper” to hit with.
Hat trick – a batter who has three, golden sombrero – four, platinum derby – five strikeouts in the same game.
Base running – delayed steal, get the jump,
Baseball terms on the defensive side of the ball
Fielder’s choice – a play where the lead runner is out when the fielder could have an out at another base too.
Passed ball – a catchable ball the catcher misses.
Shade – When the defense moves in one direction or other from “straight up,” which is equal distances from the bases.
Shift – when one or more players move to the opposite side of a base than normal.
Tools – defines the skills of play – hitting, throwing, base running, defense, speed, hitting for power, throwing arm
Tools of ignorance – a sarcastic term for the gear the catcher wears.
Gun, Bazooka, cannon, rifle – a very strong arm from a position player
Defensive indifference – when the defense allows the base runner to steal a base without a play on them
Many baseball terms have to do with managing games
Double switch – putting a defensive player at a position so the manager can adjust the batting order, used in the national league to avoid having the pitcher come to bat.
Manufacturing runs, small ball – terms used to get some runs without much hitting or any “long balls” utilized with “sacrifice bunts,” “hit and runs,” “suicide” or “safety squeezes.”
Frame – usually means an inning, but may mean the way the catcher catches the pitch to make it look like a strike.
Insurance runs – late inning runs that pad the lead
As you can see, baseball has a language all its own. I could go on and on with the many new and old baseball terms that exist, but this gives one a great head start on holding one’s own when listening to or talking about the game.
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years. His playing, coaching, and parenting stories help create better experiences for athletes and parents. Jack has written over a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports. Jack is the author of “The Making of a Hitter” and “Raising an Athlete.” His third book “Creating a Season to Remember” is in the works. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also find Jack Perconte at YouTube with over 80 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos.