Appendix:Glossary of baseball jargon (C)

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The following is a glossary of baseball jargon (phrases, idioms and slang):

Appendix: Glossary of Baseball
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Cactus League[edit]
The group of teams that conduct their pre-season spring training exhibition games in Arizona where the cactus grows in abundance. See also Grapefruit League.
Called Shot[edit]
A reference to Babe Ruth's Called Shot homerun in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, held on October 1, 1932 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
called up[edit]
A Major League team may call up or promote a player from the minor leagues during the season to take a spot on its roster, often to replace a player who has been sent down to the minor leagues or else placed on the disabled list. Players who have been in the major leagues previously (and were sent down) may be said to be recalled rather than called up. After August 31st, several minor leaguers may be called up to take a spot on the expanded roster.
A season. The "2006 campaign" is the 2006 Major League season.
can of corn[edit]
An easily-caught fly ball. Supposedly comes from a general store clerk reaching up and dropping a can from a high shelf. Frequently used by Chicago White Sox broadcaster Ken "The Hawk" Harrelson. Also, a phrase used in the expression of mild excitement.
Captain Hook[edit]
A manager who often takes a pitcher out of the game at the first sign of trouble. See hook.
catbird seat[edit]
A desirable or auspicious situation. Popularized by Red Barber, longtime broadcaster for the Brooklyn Dodgers. James Thurber wrote in his 1942 short story of the same title: "[S]itting in the catbird seat" means sitting pretty, like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him. The [catbird is said to seek out the highest point in a tree to sing his song, so someone in the catbird seat is high up. [1] Barber is quoted as saying he first heard it during a poker game years before.[2][3]
"Clearly, friends say, he is relishing his sudden ascent from Democratic reject in Connecticut to Senate kingmaker in Washington. 'He is just sitting there in the catbird seat, and it must be delicious for him,' Ms. Collins said." -- Mark Leibovich, [4]
catcher's interference[edit]
It is catcher's interference when the catcher physically hinders the batter's opportunity to swing at a pitch. Play continues, and after continuous playing action ceases, the umpire calls time. The penalty is that the batter is awarded first base, any runner attempting to steal is awarded that base, and all other runners advance only if forced. The catcher is charged with an error. This is one of many types of interference call.
caught napping[edit]
A baserunner who is tagged out because he wasn't paying attention to what the defensive players were doing is "caught napping." Often this involves a pickoff play in which the infielder sneaks up behind the runner and takes a throw from the pitcher, or, less often, the catcher.
Last place, bottom of the standings. A team that spends too much time in last place, especially over a stretch of years, tends to acquire the unflattering title of cellar dweller. SYNONYM: basement.
chair, the[edit]
Specifically regarding a batter: A seat on the bench, as opposed to reaching base or remaining in the batter's box. As in, "throw him the chair." The expression is an encouragement to the pitcher to strike out the batter, sending him back to the dugout, thus "throwing him the chair" — forcing him to sit down.
A changeup or a change is a pitch meant to look like a fastball, but with less velocity; short for change of pace. A variety of this pitch is the circle change, where a circle is formed using the thumb and pinky on the last third of a ball. This causes the ball to break inside and down to right-handed batter from a right-handed pitcher, frequently resulting in ground balls. Also, a straight change, made famous by Pedro Martínez of the New York Mets, can be utilized. The grip requires all fingers to be used in holding the ball, resulting in more friction, thus slowing the ball down tremendously.
charging the mound[edit]
  • Charging the mound refers to a batter assaulting the pitcher after being hit by a pitch. The first incidence of a professional charging the mound has not been identified but the practice certainly dates back to the game's early days. Charging the mound is often the precipitating cause of a bench-clearing brawl.
  • In the famous Pine Tar Game, George Brett charged home plate to protest the umpire's ruling that his apparent 2-run home run was hit with an illegal bat. Brett was tossed from the game.
Charley horse[edit]
Sudden stiffness or cramp in the leg. Of unknown etymology; CDS cites its first use c. 1887 as baseball slang; OED states such cramps occur "especially in baseball players" and cites this usage to 1888.[5]
"Tried on more than 1,400 patients for almost two years, it has proved effective for many kinds of pain in the muscles and around joints—charley horse, tennis elbow, stiff neck, torticollis ('wryneck'), whiplash injury, muscular rheumatism, and muscle pain resulting from slipped disks." - Brave New Soma.[6]
To chase (or chase after) is to swing at a pitch well outside of the strike zone.
check the runner[edit]
When the pitcher looks in the direction of a runner on base, and thereby causes him to not take as large of a lead as he would otherwise have taken.
check swing[edit]
A batter checks a swing by stopping it before the bat crosses the front of home plate. If he fails to stop it in time, the umpire will call a "strike" because he swung at the pitch. Often the umpire's view of the swing is obstructed. If the umpire calls the pitch a "ball," then a defensive player such as the catcher or pitcher can appeal the call and the home plate umpire will ask another umpire to tell him whether the batter swung at the pitch. In such a case, the home plate umpire always accepts the judgment of the other umpire.
A fastball. Also high cheese.
chin music[edit]
A high and tight, up and in pitch meant to knock a batter back from home plate in lieu of being hit on the chin. Also known as a brush-back or purpose pitch.
Chinese home run[edit]
A home run hit just over the outfield fence at its shortest distance from home plate. Supposedly referring to lax work ethic of Chinese immigrant workers in the early 20th century, this expression has largely fallen out of use as the major league stadiums where they were common, such as New York's Polo Grounds, have been replaced by newer, larger ones. It is also considered ethnically offensive.
A secondary meaning, supposedly limited to New England, refers to a high foul ball that travels a great distance, usually behind the plate. This may have originally been called a "Chaney's home run", after a similar hit by a player of that name which supposedly ended a game that had gone so far into extra innings that no other balls could be found to continue play with after Chaney's foul ball was lost in the weeds. The home team was thus ruled to have forfeited the game since it was responsible for providing enough balls; the term perhaps came into use ironically.
A blooper, a dying quail, a bleeder.
A chopper refers to a batted ball that immediately strikes the hardened area of dirt directly in front of home plate. This causes the ball to jump high into the infield air. Fast batters can convert such choppers into base hits.
choke up[edit]
A batter "chokes up" by sliding his hands up from the knob end of the bat to give him more control over his bat. It reduces the power and increases the control. Prior to driving in the Series-winning hit with a bloop single in the 2001 World Series, Luis Gonzalez choked up on the bat. Thus he came through, and did not "choke" in the clutch.
Throw. A pitcher is sometimes referred to as a chucker or someone who can really chuck the ball. A fan who throws objects from the stands onto the field may be a battery chucker.
circus catch[edit]
An outstanding catch, usually one a fielder has to leave his feet or go through contortions to make, resembling a circus acrobat in the process.
cleanup hitter[edit]
The fourth batter in the lineup, usually a power hitter. The strategy is to get some runners on base for the cleanup hitter to drive home. In theory, if the first three batters of the game were to load the bases, the #4 hitter would ideally "clean off" the bases with a grand slam home run.
climbing the ladder[edit]
A tactic where a pitcher delivers a succession of pitches out of the strike zone, each higher than the last, in an attempt to get the batter to swing at a pitch "in his eyes."
A relief pitcher who is consistently used to "close" or finish a game by getting the final outs. Closers are often among the most overpowering pitchers, and sometimes even the most erratic. Alternatively, they might specialize in a pitch that is difficult to hit, such as the splitter or the knuckleball.
Good performance under pressure when good performance really matters. May refer to such a situation (being in the clutch), or to a player (a good clutch hitter or one who "can hit in the clutch"), or to specific hits ("that was a clutch hit"). Most baseball fans believe that clutch hitting exists, but there is significant disagreement among statheads whether clutch hitting is a specific skill a player can possess or instead just somnthing that good hitters in general do. An old synonym for clutch is pinch, as in Christy Mathewson's book, Pitching in a Pinch.
Symbol of going hitless in a game, suggested by its resemblance to a zero, along with the implication of "choking"; to wear the collar. "If Wright doesn't get a hit here, he'll be wearing an 0 for 5 collar on the day."
A ball batted directly back to the pitcher.
The ability of a pitcher to throw a pitch where he intends to. More than just the ability to throw strikes, it is the ability to hit particular spots in or out of the strike zone. Also see location.
complete game[edit]
A complete game (denoted by CG) is the act of a pitcher pitching an entire game himself, without the benefit of a relief pitcher. A complete game can be either a win or a loss. Note: A complete game can be awarded to a pitcher even if he pitches less than (or more than) nine-innings. Also, a pitcher will not be awarded a complete game even if he pitches for nine (or more) innings and has to be relieved say, in the 10th.
contact hitter[edit]
A hitter who does not strike out often. Thus, he's usually able to make contact with the ball and put it in play. This doesn't mean he's necessarily a pitty-patty slap hitter. He may hit for power, with lots of doubles and triples. One of the best examples: Pete Rose.
A pitch that's easy to hit.
corked bat[edit]
A bat in which cork (or possibly rubber or some other elastic material) has been inserted into the core of the wooden barrel. Although modifying a bat in this way may help to increase bat speed or control by making the bat lighter, contrary to popular belief it does not impart more energy to the batted ball.[7] A batter could achieve a similar effect by choking up on the bat or using a shorter bat. A player who is caught altering his bat illegally is subject to suspension or other penalties. The last such case in Major League Baseball involved the slugger Sammy Sosa.[8]
corner outfielder[edit]
The left fielder and right fielder are corner outfielders.
A third baseman.
Texas Rangers TV announcer Bill Land once called an easily-caught fly ball in a game incorrectly by stating, "It's a cornucopia!" In the background, you could hear color commentator, Tom Grieve mumbling "can...of...corn.." It is not uncommon to hear fans in the lower rows of Section 15 at Ameriquest Field in Arlington yelling "CORNUCOPIA!"
The number of balls and strikes a batsman has in his current at bat. Usually announced as a pair of numbers, for instance "3-0", with the first number being the number of balls and the second being the number of strikes. A 3-2 count – one with the maximum number of balls and strikes in a given at bat – is referred to as a full count. A count of 1-1 or 2-2 is called even. A batter is said to be ahead in the count (and a pitcher behind in the count) if the count is 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, or 3-1. A batter is said to be behind in the count (and a pitcher ahead in the count) if the count is 0-1, 0-2, or 1-2.
covering a base[edit]
  • Part of the infielders' job is to cover bases. That is, they stand next to a base in anticipation of receiving the ball thrown from another fielder, so that they may make a play on an opposing baserunner who is approaching that base. On a force play or an appeal play, the fielder covering the base stands with one foot on that base when he catches the ball.
  • When a fielder goes to make a play at a base that is not his position (usually because the fielder for that base is unavailable to catch the ball at that base because he is busy fielding the batted ball). A common example is when the first baseman fields a batted ground ball, but is too far from the base to put the runner out. The pitcher runs over to "cover" first base to take the throw from the first baseman (play would be scored as "31", meaning first baseman to pitcher).
(idiomatic) To ensure safety. Mentioned but not dated by Oxford University Press[9] Also, a G-rated way of saying CYA (“cover your ass”).
"Arson investigators sifted through the rubble of an Airdrie Stud barn today, but failed to determine the cause of a fire that killed 15 thoroughbred broodmares and yearlings Saturday night. The horses were worth more than $1 million, according to Brereton Jones, owner of the 3,000-acre stud farm. 'We don't have any reason to believe it was arson, but you just want to be sure you cover all the bases,' he said." -- Associated Press, 1985. [10]
crack of the bat[edit]
The sound of the bat hitting the ball. The term is used in baseball to mean "immediately, without hesitation." For example, a baserunner may start running "on the crack of the bat," as opposed to waiting to see where the ball goes.
Outfielders often use the sound of bat-meeting-ball as a clue to how far a ball has been hit. As physicist Robert Adair has written,"When a baseball is hit straight at an outfielder he cannot quickly judge the angle of ascent and the distance the ball will travel. If he waits until the trajectory is well defined, he has waited too long and will not be able to reach otherwise catchable balls. If he starts quickly, but misjudges the ball such that his first step is wrong (in for a long fly or back for a short fly), the turn-around time sharply reduces his range and he will again miss catchable balls. To help his judgment, the experienced outfielder listens to the sound of the wooden bat hitting the ball. If he hears a 'crack' he runs out, if he hears a 'clunk' he runs in." [11]
Similarly, with metal bats, the outfielders have to learn to distinguish a "ping" from a "plunk".
A small baseball field considered to be friendly to power hitters and unfriendly to pitchers. A bandbox.
A crackerjack player or team is exceptionally good.
crooked number[edit]
A number other than a zero or a one, referring to the appearance of the actual number. A team which is able to score two or more runs in an inning is said to "hang a crooked number" on the scoreboard or on the pitcher.
crossed up[edit]
When a catcher calls for the pitcher to throw one type of pitch (e.g., a fastball) but the pitcher throws another (e.g., a curveball), the catcher has been crossed up. This may lead to a passed ball, allowing a runner on base to advance.
crowding the plate[edit]
When a batter sets his stance extremely close to the plate, sometimes covering up part of the strike zone. This angers pitchers and, if done repeatedly, can lead to a brush-back pitch or even a beanball being thrown at the batter to clear the plate.
crush the ball[edit]
A batter who hits a ball extremely hard and far might be said to crush the ball, as if he had destroyed the baseball or at least changed its shape. Related expressions are crunched the ball or mashed the ball. Indeed, a slugger is sometimes described as a masher. Illustration: "Though the 25-year-old has impressed with two homers in five games, he's more of a pure hitter than a masher".
Other types of baseball destruction include knocking the stuffing out of the ball and knocking the horsehide [cover] off the ball.
cup of coffee[edit]
A short time spent by a minor league player at the major league level, often for a 10-day contract. The idea is that the player was only there long enough to have a cup of coffee.
curtain call[edit]
A player who has excited the fans because of a great play or hit may come back onto the field or out of the dugout to wave or tip his cap to the crowd. A term obviously derived from the theater.
curve; curveball; to throw a curveball[edit]
A pitch that curves or breaks from a straight or expected flight path toward home plate. The curveball is a pitch designed to fool the batter by dropping unexpectedly.
(idiomatic) A surprise, often completely and totally unexpected. AHDI dates this usage to the mid-1900s.[12]
"Because of my personal story, I'm very interested in illness. One thing we discovered as a family is that when you're thrown a curveball like cancer or multiple sclerosis, often people don't know what to do first." Meredith Vieira, quoted by Jeff Chu.[13]
cut fastball[edit]
A cut fastball or cutter is a fastball that has lateral movement. A "cut fastball" is another name for a slider that is more notable for its speed than its lateral movement.
A defensive tactic where a fielder that moves into a position between the outfielder that has fielded the batted ball and the base where a play can be made. This fielder is said to "cut off" the throw or to be the "cut-off man". This tactic is taught for two reasons: it increases accuracy over long distances and shortens the time required to get a ball to a specific place. Missing the cut-off (man) is considered a mistake by an outfielder (though not scored as an error) because it may allow a runner to advance or to score.
cut-off man[edit]
A fielder that "cuts off" a long throw to an important target. Often the shortstop or second baseman will be the "cut-off man" for a long throw from the outfield to third base or home plate. "Hit the cut-off man" is a common admonition from a coach.


  1. ^ AHDI
  2. ^ Word Detective
  3. ^ Worldwide Words
  4. ^ Mark Leibovich , "Enter, Pariah: Now It’s Hugs for Lieberman", The New York Times, 15 November 2006
  5. ^ OED
  6. ^ "Brave New Soma", Time, 8 June 1959
  7. ^ Robert K. Adair, The Physics of Baseball (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), pp.136-139.
  8. ^ At the time of the Sosa incident, a list of well-known cases of doctoring the bat was published by[1].
  9. ^ Oxford University Press
  10. ^ Associated Press , "Fatal Barn Fire Still A Mystery",, The New York Times, 7 January 1985
  11. ^ Robert K. Adair, "The Crack-of-the-Bat: The Acoustics of the Bat Hitting the Ball," Acoustical Society of America, 141st Meeting, Lay Language Papers (June 2001).[2]
  12. ^
  13. ^ "10 Questions for Meredith Vieira", Time, 27 August 2006

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