Spring Training for Your Baseball Vocabulary

With baseball season stepping up to the plate, now’s a great time for fans to prepare with their own Spring Training. For today’s post, the authors of How to Speak Baseball, James Charlton and Sally Cook, start us off with three baseball terms you can use throughout the season.


Baseball, the oldest of America’s team sports, has maintained a language all its own for years. More than 5,000 terms have been recorded and players, fans, coaches, sports writers, and commentators are constantly adding new terms and phrases. Over the years the rich lexicon has crept into our everyday discourse. How often have we said, “She has two strikes against her,” or “You’re way off base,” or “He really stepped up to the plate.” This colorful vocabulary certainly makes learning a new language easy and fun for fans of all ages.


Any way you slice it, a grand salami is one of the biggest thrills for a fan or a player.  While a grand slam is not an uncommon occurrence these days, an ultimate grand slam is rare. That’s when a player’s team is down by three runs in the bottom of the last inning and the hitter belts a bases-loaded homer to give his team a one-run win. Believe it or not, an ultimate grand slam has happened fewer than a dozen times, and only twelve players have hit two grand slams in a single game. In 1966, Tony Cloninger was the first player to hit two in a National League game. And he was a pitcher! The only other National Leaguer to accomplish the feat was Fernando Tatis, for the Cardinals in 1999. And he did it in the same inning–and against the same pitcher, Chan Ho Park!

Did you know? Glenn Davis played in the majors for ten years in the 1980s and 90s and hit 190 homers. But he never hit a grand slam. Alex Rodriguez has hit the most grand slams: 24.



A few pitchers seem to have rubber arms, pitching arms that never get injured or strained.  Mike Marshall, a reliever in the 1980s was one of those lucky pitchers. In 1974, Marshall appeared in 106 games for the Dodgers, a National League record, finishing 83 of them. He pitched 208 innings that year.  Five years later he set the American League record for appearances while with the Twins.

Did you know? Marshall, who held a doctorate in kinesiology, attributed his studies of the pitching arm to never having an injury.



A curtain call, a way for the fans to express their appreciation to a player for what he has accomplished, can be short or long, and is either reluctantly or enthusiastically embraced by the player. One the longest curtain calls was Mariano Rivera’s in his final 2013 season.  Having announced at the beginning of the year that he was retiring, every team honored the star reliever by presenting him with a gift when the Yankees played in their town. The most striking and unusual present, given by the Twins when Rivera appeared there in July, was a rocking chair made from actual bats that were broken by Rivera’s famous cutter. In September at Yankee Stadium, the team honored Rivera in a 50-minute celebration. Mayor Bloomberg declared it “Mariano Rivera Day” and Metallica played “Enter Sandman,” Rivera’s theme song.

Order your copy of How to Speak Baseball today and get ready to play ball!

James Charlton and Sally Cook

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  • published here March 26, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    This is definitely helpful especially for baseball newbies. Baseball terminologies and jargon can be confusing for some so I really suggest getting a copy of this book to learn.


  • smmbcj May 4, 2014 at 9:00 am

    I thought a rubber arm was a bad pitcher. Maybe I need to get this book and bone up on my jargon. I love the look of the illustrations. They remind me of long ago baseball.


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