On this day in 1974, Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, eclipsing Babe Ruth’s record that had stood for 47 years.
The figurative use of the term home run, meaning a great success, began to appear in English in the second half of the 20th century. Of all sports, baseball, America’s pastime, has been the most fertile ground for metaphors. In fact, you can list a virtual A-Z of baseball metaphors. Remember though, to qualify for the list, the word or phrase must originate with baseball but also must be used to refer to situations outside of baseball.
The following list is from Christine Ammer’s book Southpaws & Sunday Punches:
All-star, ballpark figure, big league, box score, bush league, catbird seat*, change-up, clean-up hitter, curve ball, doubleheader, extra-innings, foul ball, go for the fences, get to first base, go to bat for, hard ball, in the ballpark, inside baseball, left field, line-up, major league, MVP, no runs, no hits, no errors, off base, on deck, pitch hit, rain check, screwball, southpaw, Tinker’s chance, wait ’til next year, whole new ballgame (1)
Today Challenge: Field Your Dream Team
What category of person or things might you divide up into a team, using the metaphor of baseball positions? Brainstorm some different categories of people or things with at least nine members, such as U.S. Presidents, Great Inventors, Great Philosophers, Great Poets, Movie Genres, Architectural Styles, Academic Disciplines, Great Rock-n-roll Bands, Novels by Stephen King, or Great American Novels. Then, select one category and identify your 9-player line-up.
For example, below is an example using the nine parts of speech:
Nouns – Catcher
Verb – Pitcher
Adjective – 1st Base
Adverb – 2nd Base
Preposition – 3rd Base
Pronouns – Short Stop
Article – Left Field
Conjunction – Center Field
Interjection – Right Field
Quotation of the Day: Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is. -Bob Feller
*For an excellent short story, full of baseball metaphors, see James Thurber’s short story The Catbird Seat.
1-Ammer, Christine. Southpaws & Sunday Punches. New York: Plume, 1992.