Baseball lingo is a language unto itself

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 31, 2001

Sports Editor

When I was surfing the internet the other day I came across some interesting lingo and terms used to described action in a

baseball game. A few terms I recognized, but most of them were as unfamiliar as snow fall in Florida.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

I thought I’d share a few.

Baltimore chop: I know. It sounds like something Braves’ fans would do if somehow the cities of Baltimore and Atlanta could trade franchises. But a Baltimore chop, instead means a "ground ball that hits in front of home plate (or off of it) and takes a large hop over the infielder’s head."

Bandbox: "A small ballpark that favors hitters." Players and fans of Charles Henderson High School baseball can attest to the fact that this is something Carroll Stadium in Ozark is not.

Caught looking: A familiar term which is "when a batter is called out on strikes." It also refers to when a husband is jacked up by his wife after being "caught looking" at another woman.

Bronx cheer: No doubt originated by New York fans it’s "when the crowd boos."

Can of corn: How this term came to pass I have no idea. It means "an easy catch by a fielder."

Dinger: Yet another term for a home run.

Fireman: "A team’s closer or late-inning relief pitcher." Not to be confused with the song of the same name by country singer George Strait. That fireman doesn’t pitch. He goes around town putting out old flames.

High and tight: "Referring to a pitch that’s up in the strike zone and inside on a hitter." For the U.S. Marines it’s also a haircut, shaved clean on the sides and in the back while leaving just enough hair on top so as to not look like Telly Savales.

Jam: "When a hitter gets a pitch near his hands, he is ‘jammed.’ Also when a pitcher gets himself in trouble, he is in a ‘jam’." This is totally unrelated, but just what is the difference between jam and jelly anyway? I’ve never heard anyone say, "peanut butter and jam sandwich," yet some people still insist on using the word jam when what they actually have is jelly. Odd.

Meatball: "An easy pitch to hit, usually right down the middle of the plate."

Moon shot: "A very long, high home run." It’s also a term my father uses when we’re playing a card game called Rook.

Ruthian: "With great power." No doubt coined after the Great Bambino, Babe Ruth.

Set-up man: "A relief pitcher who usually enters the game in the seventh or eighth inning." Also used by supposed criminals when caught by the police, as in "Man, I was set-up!"

Tater: It means a home run, but I’ve never heard it used before by sports writers or sports broadcasters. I have, however, heard it used during Sunday dinner as in "pass those taters."

Texas Leaguer: "A bloop hit that drops between an infielder and the outfielder." Something Vermont Senator James Jeffords executed against President George Bush and the Republican Party when he chose to become an independent last week, giving the Democrats control of the Senate. Remember, Bush is the original "Texas Leaguer." He used to own the Texas Rangers.

All of the above terms and more can be found at The glossary was prepared by the Publishing Department of Major League Baseball Properties.