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Stuff in Baseball

Sarah from Leyden, Massachusetts, wonders about the many ways baseball commentators and sportswriters use the word stuff, as in “The stuff is there, but the command is off,” or “The kid’s got great stuff, but he’s only...

Pitched Battle vs. Pitch Battle

Is it a pitched battle or a pitch battle? Originally, a pitched battle was conducted according to traditional rules of warfare, which called for combat in a prearranged time and place. The pitch in this term has to do with positioning, in much the...

Eephus, Ephus

Baseball fans know the eeuphus pitch-that arcing lob made famous by Rip Sewell in the 1946 All-Star Game. Before that, the word eephus referred to insider information. Jim Strain in La Mesa, California, even uses it as a verb, as in, “That...

Piggyback

What does a piggyback ride have to do with pigs? Not much. In the 16th century, the word was pickaback, meaning to pitch or throw on one’s back. It’s had dozens of spellings over the past few centuries, but perhaps the word piggy has...

Tickets to the Gun Show

Why do we call our biceps guns? The slang lexicographer Jonathon Green suggests that the metaphor first pops up in baseball around the 1920s, when players referred to their throwing arms as guns. Believe it or not, the early baseball pitchers...