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Phrases Only True Baseball Fans Understand

Updated April 22, 2018 13.3k votes 888 voters 24.1k views57 items

List RulesVote up the items that are the most unique to the game and what you believe TRUE baseball fans should be familiar with.

These are the most timeless sayings and phrases popularized by the game of baseball. Some of these sayings have trickled their way into the mainstream as everyday metaphors, others are about as inside baseball as it gets.

This is the proverbial list that divides the casual baseball observer from the true fan who understands the nuances of America's pastime. 


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  • 1
    311
    32

    Around the Horn

    An informal ritual where the infielders throw the ball around the diamond after an infield out when there are no runners on base.

  • 2
    386
    62

    Bush-League

    Another way of saying pitiful, below average. Not cool. 

    Examples include bunting to get on base to break up a no hitter or stealing a base when you're up by 8 or more runs. 
  • 3
    292
    42

    Southpaw

    A left-handed pitcher: based on the orientation of early baseball fields to the same points of the compass, such that the pitcher's left arm was on the “south” side of his body.
  • 4
    313
    52

    Knuckler

    Short for "knuckleball" - a pitch thrown with no rotation or spin on the ball causing it to have an unpredictable trajectory.
  • 5
    286
    47

    Backdoor Breaking Ball

    When a pitcher breaks a ball from the opposite end of the batter's box to hit the outside corner.

    Frontdoor breaking ball is when it breaks over the inside of the plate, hence going through the player's "front door." 

  • 6
    213
    28

    Warning Track Power

    A batter who has enough strength to put a charge into a fly ball, but not enough to get the ball over the fence. An almost-slugger.
  • 7
    305
    70

    Mendoza Line

    When a player's batting average is below .200.

    Derived from the Mexican shortstop from the 1950's Mario Mendoza, even though Mendoza had a career batting average of .215...
  • 8
    377
    101

    Squeeze

    A sacrifice bunt with a runner on third base. The batter bunts the ball, expecting to be thrown out at first base, but providing the runner on third base an opportunity to score.
  • 9
    297
    67

    Pepper

    A game that features several players casually tossing a ball to a hitter who lightly hits the ball back to them.

    A warm-up that often is described as "playing pepper."
  • 10
    263
    53

    In The Hole

    The batter who proceeds the man on-deck. Named as they usually stand on the first step or the "hole" of the dugout.
  • 11
    258
    52

    Can of Corn

    When a outfield catches an easy, lazy fly ball. Originated from grocers who used to knock a can of corn off the top shelf and catch it easily with their aprons. 
  • 12
    197
    34

    Beanball

    A pitch intentionally thrown to hit the batter if he does not move out of the way, especially when directed at the head (or the "bean" in old-fashioned slang.)
  • 13
    200
    36

    Rubber Arm

    A pitcher who can throw many pitches without tiring and pitch consecutive days with the same effectiveness.
  • 14
    401
    138

    Balk

    An illegal motion made by a pitcher that may deceive a base runner and which is penalized by advancing the runner(s) one base.
  • 15
    212
    50

    Pulled the string

    When a pitcher throws a slow pitch after a series of fastballs. Pulls the string as if "winding the player up" and then letting go of or "pulling the string." 
  • 16
    179
    43

    At 'em Ball/Atom Ball

    A hard-hit ball batted directly at a fielder.
  • 17
    347
    135

    Walk-Off

    Scoring the winning run in the bottom of the 9th or extra inning which ends the game.
  • 18
    187
    50

    Cheese

    Another word for a fastball. Derived from the belief that cheese/cheddar is "the good stuff." 
  • 19
    145
    31

    Hurler

    A pitcher.
  • 20
    144
    30

    Bat Flip

    When a player or hitter celebrates a home run
     
  • 21
    265
    101

    Hanger

    A breaking ball with very little movement, resulting in it "hanging" over the plate (and usually hit very hard.)
  • 22
    226
    89

    Five-Tool Player

    A position player who excels in every aspect of the game: running speed, throwing arm strength, defensive ability, hitting for a high average and power (typically homeruns.)
  • 23
    133
    33

    Pinch

    A critical situation where a strategic substitution is made by the offense; either the batter "pinch hits" or a baserunner "pinch runs."
  • 24
    164
    57

    On The Bump

    The pitcher who is on the mound or "bump."
  • 25
    141
    45

    Tablesetter

    A player placed high in the batting order for his tendency to get on base and steal bases.