MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL throws out its first pitch of the 2014 season on Saturday in the series opener between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers. I welcome it. But I also have to admit that, in a era when climatic conditions – or at least our observations of them – are so dazed and confused, the fact that this rite of spring is taking place a week before the first day of autumn in Sydney, Australia just messes with my head.
Still, taking in a nice, slow game of baseball has always been a refuge from stress. Along with it, I propose we talk some baseball talk, in the rich and colorful language that’s a throwback to simpler times, particularly the slang about pitching, excerpted here from The American Thesaurus of Slang.
PITCHING: Elbowing, twirling; hillock performance, mound duty, no-hit flinging, no-reach style, shutout twirling (pitching which permits no hits); tight throwing (pitching which permits few hits); mound assignment (the pitcher’s position on a team); hurling session, turn on the mound (a period of pitching); balk (a false motion by a pitcher to deceive a batsman or base runner as to where the ball will be thrown); freak delivery (clever manipulation in pitching); round-arm delivery (an over-the-shoulder delivery); buggy-whip or whiplash delivery (fast pitching); south pawing (left-handed pitching); southpaw jinx (defeats by left-handed pitchers); windup (a preliminary rotation of the arm before executing a throw). PITCHING ABILITY: Dope on the ball, educated mitt, plenty (of stuff) on the ball, something on ‘er, something on the ball, stuff, stuff on the ball. PITCHING ARM: Flinger, hook, hurling arm, pegger, salary arm, (old) soupbone, (old) souper, whip, wing; lefter, lefty, off arm, portside arm or flinger, portsider, southpaw, wrong arm (a pitcher’s left arm); starboard mitt (the right hand); buggy-whip arm, cannon-ball arm, rubber arm, whiplash arm (a good throwing arm); game arm (an injured arm); glass or putty arm (a weak arm). PITCHED BALL: Chuck, chunk, delivery, heave, offering, peg, shy, throw-in, twirl; groove ball, groover, in-the-groover, one in the groove or slot (a ball thrown squarely over the plate); one letter-high (a chest-high) ball; underhanded (an underhanded pitch); overhanded (an overhanded pitch). FAST BALL: Breezer, buggy-whip or whiplash delivery, bullet, burner, burnt offering, buzzer, cannon ball, drive, fastie, fast one, fast pellet, fireball, flash, green pea, hard ball, hard one, hot one, hot-shot, hummer, nasty pill, quickie, red-hot rivet, rifle shot or throw, ripper, scorcher, shot, shot ball, sizzler, smoke, smoke-ball, smokehouse (throw), smoker, smoky one, snapped ball or peg, soak, soaker, sock, speedball, speedy one, steamer, streaker, Sunday pitch, swisher, whang, whip, whistling peg, whiz, whiz-ball, whizzer, zipper. SLOW BALL: Fat one, floater, lazy pitch, nothin’ ball, punkin, soft ball, slow, slowie. CURVE BALL: Bender, breaker, curly one, curve ball, hook, mackerel, screwball, screwy ball, slant, snake, twirler; break (the swerve of a ball from a straight line); fadeaway (a slow curve, pitched as though it were a fast ball, which breaks downward and toward the batter); in, in ball, incurve, inshoot (a ball that carves toward the batter); out, out ball, outcurve, outshoot (a ball that curves away from the batter); jump-ball, rise, upcurve, upshot (a ball that curves upward); hop on the ball (the upward “break” on a curve); dipsy-doo ball, drop, drop ball, drop-curve, fall-away, sinker, sinker ball, submarine (a ball that curves downward); knuckle-ball (in which the ball is held with the knuckles); roundhouse [curve] (a sweeping outcurve); spitball, spitter (a type of curve, now prohibited, made by moistening one side with saliva); dry ball (versus a “spitball”). “WILD BALL:” (A ball pitched wide of the plate.) Wide ball, wide baby, wide one or un, wild ball (wild pitch or throw; inside ball, insider (a ball thrown inside the plate); outside ball, outsider (a ball thrown outside the plate). BALL PITCHED TOWARD THE BATTER: Bean, bean ball, beaner, duster.
THE AMERICAN THESAURUS OF SLANG, WITH SUPPLEMENT. A COMPLETE REFERENCE BOOK OF COLLOQUIAL SPEECH, BY LESTER V. BERREY AND MELVIN VAN DEN BARK. COPYRIGHT 1942, 1947, BY THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY. FIFTH PRINTING, JANUARY 1947.