Baseball Lingo


I played baseball as a youth and have been a baseball fan all my life. Now that I am retired I watch Cardinal baseball games for relaxation. My wife frequently indulges me and watches with me. She knows a lot of the terms but unfamiliar ones come up periodically.


A person uninitiated to baseball may think that baseball people use a foreign language or at least use words with strange meanings. These definitions can help one understand the meaning of these baseball terms.


Pitchers and Pitches:


Ace—the best starting pitcher on a team.

Ball—a pitch thrown outside the strike zone.

Breaking ball—a pitch that does not go in a straight line but jumps, drops or moves to the left or right.

Backdoor slider—a pitch that appears to be out of the strike zone, but then breaks back over the plate.

Beanball—a pitch thrown at the batter’s head.

Brushback pitch—a pitch that nearly hits the batter.

Cheese or Good cheese—a good fastball.

Chin music—a pitch high and inside on the batter.

Closer—a team’s relief pitcher who closes the game when the team is leading by three runs or less.

Complete game—a pitcher is credited with a complete game when he pitches the entire game.

Curve—a pitch that moves down, across, or down and across, depending on the rotation of the ball.

Cutter—a cut fastball with a late break.

Fastball—a pitch thrown as hard as possible.

Fireman—a team’s closer or late inning relief pitcher.

Forkball—a pitch thrown with the ball placed between the first two fingers, usually results in a sinking movement.

Gopher ball—a pitch hit for a home run.

Heat or Heater—a good fastball.

High and tight—a pitch that is up in the strike zone and inside on the hitter.

Hold—a relief pitcher is awarded a hold who comes into a game in a save situation, records at least one out, and exits the game without allowing his team to give up the lead at any point.

Knuckleball—a pitch that is grasped with the fingernails or knuckles and thrown without a spin. It moves in an unpredictable manner.

Left-handed specialist—a left handed relief pitcher who is brought in to pitch to a left handed batter.

Meatball—a pitch that is easy to hit, usually in the center of the strike zone.

No hitter—when a pitcher pitches a complete game without allowing the opposing team reach first base with a safe base hit.

Painting the black—a pitch thrown over the edge of the plate.

Perfect game—a game in which the pitcher does not allow any batter of the

opposing team to reach base.

Picasso—a control pitcher who can paint the black (hit the edges of the plate).

Pitching rotation—the order in which starting pitchers pitch, usually with three or four days rest.

Pitchout—a pitch that is thrown wide of the strike zone in order for the catcher to be better able to throw a runner trying to steal a base.

Punchout—a strikeout.

Relief pitcher—a pitcher brought into the game to replace the starting pitcher or another relief pitcher who is not effective in getting batters out.

Right down Broadway—a pitch delivered in the center of the strike zone.

Save—a relief pitcher is credited with a save when he enters the game with his team leading by three runs or less and preserves the victory or if he pitches at

least three innings without allowing the opposing team to tie the score or win the game.

Set-up man—a relief pitcher who comes into the game in the 7th or 8th inning.

Sinker—a fast pitch that breaks downward.

Southpaw—a left handed pitcher.

Spitball—an illegal pitch with a foreign substance (saliva or grease) placed on the ball to cause the ball to make a greater break.

Starter—the pitcher who starts the game and continues until the game is over or he is replaced by a relief pitcher.

Strike—a pitch thrown in the strike zone. The first two foul balls not caught count as the first and second strike.          

Uncle Charlie—a curve ball.

Whiff—a strikeout.

Whitewash—when a team is shutout, kept from scoring any runs.

Wild pitch—a pitch so far from the strike zone that the catcher cannot catch or block it allowing a runner to advance to the next base.

Yakker—a curve ball.

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Learning About Life and Leadership from Christian Coaches

John Wooden

Wooden, John with Steve Jamison. My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004.

Wooden, John with Steve Jamison. Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1997.

Wooden, John and Steve Jamison. Wooden on Leadership. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005.

Tom Landry

Landry, Tom with Gregg Lewis. Tom Landry: An Autobiography. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990.

Tom Osborne

Tom Osborne and John E. Roberts. More Than Winning: The Story of Tom Osborne. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009.

Osborne, Tom. Faith in the Game: Lessons on Football, Work, and Life. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 1999.

Osborne, Tom. Beyond the Final Score: There’s More to Life than the Game. Ventura, CA: Regal/Gospel Light, 2009.

Joe Gibbs

Joe Gibbs with Jerry Jenkins. Game Plan for Life: Your Personal Playbook for Success. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2009.

Joe Gibbs with Ken Abraham. Racing to Win: Establish Your Game Plan for Success. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2002.

Lou Holtz

Holtz, Lou. Winning Every Day: The Game Plan for Success. New York: HarperBusiness, 1998.

Holtz, Lou. Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography. New York: William Morrow/Harper Collins, 2006.

Tony Dungy

Dungy, Tony with Nathan Whitaker. Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2007.

Dungy, Tony with Nathan Whitaker. Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2009.

Dungy, Tony with Nathan Whitaker. The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams that Win Consistently. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2010.

Bobby Bowden

Bowden, Bobby with Mark Schabach. Called to Coach: Reflections on Life, Faith, and Football. New York: Howard Books, 2010.

New York “Bankees”

New York Yankees Baltimore ... A couple years ago my ten-year-old grandson, Luke,  said  he heard that the New York Yankees were the best team in baseball.                                                          

I responded, “They are the best team money can buy.”

He answered, “They should not be called the New York Yankees. They
should be called the New York Bankees.”

I believe his label still fits.

Wisdom from Coach Wooden

John Wooden learned important lessons from his father, Joshua Wooden. Below are Joshua Wooden’s Two Sets of Threes and his Seven-Point Creed.

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Two Sets of Threes

  1. Never lie
  2. Never cheat.
  3. Never steal.
  1. Don’t whine.
  2. Don’t complain.
  3. Don’t make excuses.

Seven Point Creed

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Help others.
  3. Make each day your masterpiece.
  4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
  5. Make friendship a fine art.
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  7. Pray for guidance, and count and give thanks for your blessings every day.

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