Appendix:Glossary of baseball jargon (H)

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

Appendix: Glossary of Baseball
0-9 · A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P · Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · Y · Z


Hall of Fame[edit]
The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Abbreviated HOF.
  • To hit the ball hard, typically for extra bases. "Aaron hammered that pitch."
  • The nickname of Henry Aaron — Hank "The Hammer" Aaron — the all-time Major League career leader in home runs.
  • A curve ball, usually of the 12 to 6 variety.
  • A hard-hit ground ball that bounces directly at an infielder may be difficult for him to get his hands up in time to grab. He may appear to be [handcuffed]] in that situation.
  • A pitch thrown high and inside may handcuff a batter because he can't get his hands far enough away from his body to swing the bat.
Often it's said of a player who has not fielded a batted ball cleanly that he "couldn't find the handle on it." This suggests the fanciful notion that the baseball would be easier to hold onto if there were a handle attached to it.
  • A breaking ball that does not break, and so is easy to hit. A hanging curveball.
  • A pitcher may be hung with a loss if he is responsible for his team falling behind in runs and the team never recovers the lead.
  • A runner may be hung up if he is caught in a rundown.
  • A runner may be hung out to dry if he gets picked off at first base, or if a hitter misses a hit-and-run sign and the runner is easily tagged out at second base. A player may be hung out to dry if his team treats him in an unexpected or disappointing way. (Story: "The Mets got what they needed from pitcher Al Leiter yesterday. Unfortunately, Leiter was hung out to dry again, done in by his team's anemic offense.")
hard hands[edit]
A tendency to mishandle fielded balls. Also stone fingers.
hardball; to play hardball[edit]
(idiomatic) To be or act tough, aggressive. Refers to the comparison between balls in baseball and softball. Baseball is generally considered the more difficult game. As a synonym for baseball, OED dates this use to 1883; its non-baseball use appears in 1973[1]
"Hauser would like to extend its three-year contract with Bristol-Myers, becoming a supplier of the material for semi-synthetic Taxol. 'I think this is just tough bargaining,' said Deborah Wardwell of Dain Bosworth Securities. 'It seems to suggest hardball tactics.'"- Milt Freudenheim. [2]
hat trick[edit]
To strike out three times. Used jokingly, as the same term means to score three times in hockey and other sports.
A shorthand term used to abbreviate Hit By Pitch.
a pitcher who throws beanballs.
Also heater. A fastball.
helping his own cause[edit]
Said of a pitcher who knocks in runs as a hitter, thereby helping himself to earn credit for a win.
hidden ball trick[edit]
A very rare feat in which a fielder has the ball and hides it from a runner, trying to trick him into believing that some other fielder has it or that it has gotten away from them. One example would be if the pitcher throws to first to force a runner back to the base, and the first baseman pretends to throw the ball back to the pitcher. If the runner starts to lead off again right away, he could be tagged out. Another example would be for the fielder to spin around, "looking" for a hit or thrown ball that has "eluded" him, while actually carrying it in his glove. There is no rule against this kind of deception. The exception is that once the pitcher toes or stands astride the rubber, he must have the ball in his possession, or else a balk will be called. Any baserunner victimized by a hidden ball trick play is liable to be ribbed endlessly by his teammates for having been caught napping.
high and tight[edit]
A location pitch thrown above the strike zone and close to the batter.
high cheese[edit]
A fastball thrown high in the strike zone.
high, hard one[edit]
a fastball thrown high in, or above the strike zone.
high heat[edit]
A strike thrown high in the strike zone.
The pitcher's mound.
hit it out of the park; knock it out of the park[edit]
(idiomatic) To achieve complete or even a spectacular success; compare home run, below. A home run is automatically scored when a batter strikes the ball with such force as to hit it out of the stadium or playing field.
"11:55 AM: Kerry stumbled over the question of whether God is on America's side. But Edwards hit it out of the park with his anecdote about Abraham Lincoln saying America is on God's side. He is the more nimble debater and conversationalist." --Katherine Q. Seelye.[3]
hitter's count[edit]
When a batter is way ahead in the count (3-0, 3-1, 2-0) he's likely to anticipate that the next pitch will be thrown down Broadway — in the middle of the plate.
hitter's park[edit]
A baseball park in which hitters tend to perform better than average. This may be a result of several factors, including the dimensions of the park (distance to the outfield fences, size of foul territory behind the plate and down the lines), prevailing winds, temperature and relative humidity, and altitude. Whether a park is a hitter's park or a pitcher's park (in which hitters perform worse than average) is determined statistically by measuring Park Factors, which involves comparing how well hitters perform in a given park compared with how they perform in all other parks. This measure is regularly reported and updated for Major League Baseball parks by[2] Baseball Reference[3] and other baseball research organizations also report park factors for major league parks. Baseball Prospectus[4] and other baseball researchers calculate park factors for minor league parks to help in adjusting the statistics of baseball prospects.
Whether a park is a hitter's park or pitcher's park may change from day to day. For example, when the wind is blowing "out" at Wrigley Field, it is typically rendered a "hitter's park", and double-digit scores for one or both teams are not unusual.
hit and run[edit]
An offensive tactic whereby a baserunner (usually on first base) starts running as if to steal and the batter is obligated to swing at the pitch. Contrast this to a run and hit, where the runner steals, and the batter (who would normally take on a straight steal) may swing at the pitch.
hit by pitch[edit]
When a pitch touches a batter in the batter's box, the batter advances to first base. Abbreviated as HBP. Colloquially, a batter who is hit by a pitch may be said to be plunked, drilled, nailed, plugged, or beaned.
hit 'em where they ain't[edit]
Said to be the (grammatically-casual) response of turn-of-the-20th-century player Willie Keeler to the question, "What's the secret to hitting?" in which "'em" or "them" are the batted balls, and "they" are the fielders.
hit for the cycle[edit]
To hit a single, double, triple and home run in the same game. To accomplish this feat in order is termed a "natural cycle."
hit the ball on the screws (on the button)[edit]
To hit the ball even center with measured force, often resulting in a loud crack of the bat. A slumping batter might be comforted by "hitting the ball on the screws" when not getting a hit. Taken from golf terminology, going back to an era when persimmon woods were used that had a face insert that was affixed by screws.
hitting behind the runner[edit]
An offensive tactic where the batter intentionally puts the ball in play to the right side with a runner on second. The intent is to advance the baserunner to third, where a sacrifice fly by the next hitter can score a run.
A hold (abbreviated as H) is awarded to a relief pitcher if he enters in a save situation, records at least one out, and leaves the game without having relinquished that lead. To receive a hold, the pitcher must not finish the game (thus becoming the closing pitcher) or be the winning pitcher.
Unlike saves, more than one pitcher can earn a hold in a game. It is also not necessary for the pitcher's team to win the game in order to achieve a hold; they merely have to be in the lead at the time the pitcher exits.
The hold was invented in 1986 to give credit to non-closer relief pitchers. Holds are most often accredited to setup pitchers, as they usually pitch between the starter and the closer. Holds are (as of 2006) an official Major League Baseball statistic.
hold the runner on[edit]
When a runner is on first base, the first baseman might choose to stand very close to first base rather than assume a position behind first base and more part-way toward second base (a position better suited to field ground balls hit to the right side of the diamond). When he does this he's said to "hold the runner on (first)" because he's in a position to take a throw from the pitcher and thereby discourage the runner from taking a big lead-off.
  • One of the 9 places in the batting lineup. The lead-off hitter in the first inning is the player in the "one hole." In the four hole, the cleanup hitter is hoping to get to the plate in that inning.
  • Also see in the hole.
hole in his glove[edit]
A tendency to drop fly balls, usually after they hit (and seem to go through) the fielder's glove.
hole in his swing[edit]
A scouting report phrase describing a batter who can't hit strikes in a particular location.
home field advantage[edit]
Teams playing home games have a small advantage over visiting teams. In recent decades, home teams have tended to win about 53.5% of their games.[4] Because teams play the same number of games at home as they do away during the regular season, this advantage tends to even out. In play-off series, however, teams hope to gain from home-field advantage by having the first game of the series played in their home stadium.
home game[edit]
A game played at the home stadium or ballpark of a baseball club. When the Yankees play in Yankee Stadium, they're playing a home game. The team that is hosting the game is referred to as the home team.
home plate[edit]
See plate.
home run[edit]
A home run (or homer) is a base hit in which the batter is able to circle all the bases, ending at home plate and scoring a run himself.
(idiomatic) A complete success (opposite of strike out); often used in the verb phrase "hit a home run". OED cites this usage to 1965[5] In a sexual context, it means complete success at having sex, especially with someone desirable.
"HGTV caught on quickly, and is now carried in 90 million homes. The Food Network has been a home run as well, luring viewers interested in cooking." --Geraldine Fabrikant.[6]
home team[edit]
The "home team" is the one in whose stadium the game is played against the "visiting team." The home team bats in the bottom half of the inning. In case a game is played at a neutral site, the "home" team is usually determined by coin toss.
  • A home run.
  • Also, a derisive term for a dedicated, almost delusional, fan. Especially used for a broadcaster, in any sport, whose team "can do no wrong". Johnny Most of the Boston Celtics was a notorious "homer". In a somewhat more humorous example, Bert Wilson used to say, "I don't care who wins, as long as it's the Cubs!" A common "homer" saying is, "My two favorite teams are (my team) and whoever's playing (my team's rival)."
A series of home games. See also road trip.
  • When a manager leaves the dugout with the obvious intention of replacing the pitcher with a reliever, he may be said to be carrying a hook. "Here comes Sparky, and he's got the hook." Such a usage may have come from the large hooks that were sometimes used in Vaudeville to yank unsuccessful acts off the stage if they were reluctant to leave on their own. When he was manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Sparky Anderson's heavy reliance on relief pitching earned him the nickname "Captain Hook", a reference both to the standard usage and to the Peter Pan villain.
  • A pitcher is said to be "on the hook" when he leaves the game with his team behind because of runs that he gave up — a hook on which he may be hung with the loss.
hook foul[edit]
When the batter pulls the ball down the line, starting fair but ending foul, resulting in a foul ball. See also slice foul.
  • The ball (a baseball) used in the game of baseball.
  • The leather cover on the baseball (which is now usually made of cowhide, not horsehide). A slugger may be said to "knock the horsehide off the ball." Horsehide was the cover of choice for decades, as it was less prone to stretching than cowhide. This was necessary in part because in the early days, they tried to play the entire game with a single ball, or as few as possible. That became moot in the 1920s, but horsehide continued to be used until the 1980s or so, when horsehide became prohibitively expensive and cowhide was finally adopted as the standard cover for a baseball.
A strong arm, said typically of an outfielder.
hot box[edit]
The area between two fielders during a rundown.
hot corner[edit]
The area around third base and the third baseman, so called because right-handed batters tend to hit line drives down the third base line. The third baseman is sometimes called a "cornerman."
Hot Stove League[edit]
An old fashioned term for a "Winter league" with no games, just speculation, gossip, and story-telling during the months between the end of the World Series and the beginning of Spring training, presumably conducted while sitting around a hot stove. One of Norman Rockwell's well-known baseball paintings is a literal illustration of this term.
humpback liner[edit]
A term frequently used to describe a ball hit deep in the infield that has a trajectory in between that of a fly ball and a line drive. They would often fall in for hits, but the extra topspin on the ball makes them take a dive before they can get to the outfield. While not the hardest hit, these types of balls can be hard for infielders to get to if they are not in double-play depth.
A pitcher.


  1. ^ [ OED
  2. ^ Milt Freudenheim, "Bristol-Myers Won't Renew Hauser Pact", The New York Times, 10 January 2007
  3. ^ Katherine Q. Seelye, "The Democratic Presidential Debate", The New York Times, 29 February 2004
  4. ^ Cyril Marong, "Historical Trends in Home-Field Advantage."[1]
  5. ^ OED
  6. ^ Geraldine Fabrikant, "Scripps Is in Search of Its Next Food Network", The New York Times, 14 August 2006

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