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Baseball Cheese

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Paul from Omaha, Nebraska, says as a result of watching the College World Series in that city, he and his son wondered when sports announcers started using the word cheese to describe a pitcher’s fastball, and such variants as throwing cheese, hard cheese, and high cheese. It likely derives from a word in Farsi, Urdu, and Hindi that sounds like the word cheese, that means a “thing” or “item,” which migrated into British English as the big cheese, meaning “the big thing” or “the main thing.” It’s used in the same way as the word stuff, meaning the quality of a pitcher’s throwing. The best and most comprehensive reference work for the language of baseball is The Dickson Baseball Dictionary by Paul Dickson. (Bookshop|Amazon) This is part of a complete episode.

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  • Love to see the baseball references here. I was wondering if you got “High Cheese” correct. My understanding, from listening to Dennis Eckersley do the color commentary for Red Sox games, was that high cheese was a relatively quick fastball (cheese) at the top of the strikezone (high). In some uses, it even seems like High Cheese can just be a fastball near the batter’s face, whether it is a strike or not. Usually, the hitter cannot catch up to the “High Cheese.” Here Eckersley gives a fun breakdown on the different types of cheese. I particularly like “Sneaky Cheese” and “Educated Cheese.” (https://vimeo.com/16060249, Hope it’s okay to post a link.)

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