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The Old College Try Comes from Baseball

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To give it the old college try means “to put forth one’s best effort.” The phrase stems from the early days of baseball, and arose from tension between the few professional college-educated players and those who’d picked up the game on sandlots. The expression originally had a sarcastic tone, suggestive of grandstanding and flamboyant attempts at impossible plays from people who didn’t have a lot of practical experience, but has since ameliorated. Now it’s used to encourage or console. Variants include the old college spirit and the old college effort. This is part of a complete episode.

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