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Sports Slang

“The batter blooped a Texas leaguer into shallow right off the southpaw’s heater.”

For those of you without a baseball vocabulary, the sentence means that a batter lightly hit a fastball thrown by a left-handed pitcher into shallow right field. For our May 2006 World Almanac E-Newsletter, I put together a small piece about baseball slang and its origins, so it’s always in my mind whenever I’m watching games. More than other sport, baseball has given rise to a number of creative and funny terms to describe what’s happening on the field. Maybe this is because the game is so rooted in American culture that it stirs the creative impulses in those who follow the game, allowing them to concoct new phrases, which capture the true essence of the game. But fans and radio announcers also need to use colorful terminology to keep things interesting...because for the most part, nothing happens for most of a typical baseball game.

There are lots of terms for a curveball—hook, 12 to 6, yellow hammer—and many more to describe hits—frozen rope, worm burner, screamer. But slang isn’t limited to baseball. Basketball has its bricks, swishes, and players camped out under the basket, while football has its gunners, flea flickers, and hook and ladder plays. See below for links to some more resources for exploring sports slang.

Sports Slang at SportsIllustrated.com

- Vincent Spadafora


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