Baseball and softball have a rhythm. Part of the rhythm is the constant chatter by players, coaches, announcers, and spectators. No other sport in the world has a language that artfully describes the game and those who play it. I have found that using these words and phrases can be an effective way to coach, teach, motivate, and relax hitters. More importantly, speaking this odd language is just plain fun.
This site is viewed daily by people from all over the world, so I am especially eager to share this unique language with my international readers. I am assuming some of the translations will be very amusing.
Here are some of the more popular phrases and expressions that relate to hitting. Many date back to the early days of baseball. I have placed an asterisk (*) by my favorites.
*Atom ball or At ’em ball– A ball hit directly at a defender. Hitters often get into slumps, even though they are hitting the ball hard. They are hitting too many “At ’em balls”.
Axe— A Term for a bat.
Bail out— Hitters who are afraid of the ball. These hitters flinch, duck, and even jump out of the box.
*Baltimore chop— A ball hit hard off of home plate or in front of the plate that causes it to bounce high into the air. This often results in an infield hit. The Baltimore Orioles in the 1800s poured cement under the dirt in front of home plate to give their hitters an advantage.
*Banjo hitter— A term for weak hitters. The ball coming off the bats of these hitters made a twanging sound like a banjo.
Barrage— A team that strings multiple hits together.
Barrel up— Hitting the ball on the big part of the bat.
Base knock— A base hit.
Bases juiced— Players on first, second, and third base.
Belted— A hard hit ball.
*Big fly— A home run.
Big guns— The best hitters in a lineup.
Blooper— A weak fly ball that barely reaches the outfield for a hit.
Butcher boy— When hitters fake a bunt and pull the bat back in order to take a full swing. This is a popular hitting tactic in fastpitch softball, especially for left-handed slap hitters.
*Can of corn— This is a very popular expression for an easy fly ball. The origin is from old general stores, where storekeepers would use a ladder to reach some of the canned goods on high shelves. The storekeepers would softly toss the cans to shoppers, who would have no trouble catching them in their baskets.
Can’t hit his/her weight— Hitters who have a very low average.
Caught looking— Hitters who watch the third strike without swinging.
Choke and poke— Moving the hands up the handle of the bat for better control (Choke) and just trying to put the ball in play anywhere on the field (Poke), to avoid striking out.
Chopper— A ball hit hard into the dirt in front of home plate, causing it to bounce high in the air.
*Come out of your shoes— Swinging as hard as possible.
Crush the ball— Hitting the ball hard.
*Cue shot— A ball that is hit off the end of the bat, like a cue stick in pool or billiards.
Curtain call— Hitters who are coaxed out of the dugout by the cheers of the crowd to acknowledge a nice hit, usually a home run.
Cycle— A single, double, triple, and home run in the same game by an individual hitter.
*Daisy cutter–A term for a hard-hit ground ball, that figuratively trims the tops off daisies.
Dead red— When a hitter is focused on only hitting a fastball.
*Dinger— A home run.
Down and hard— An instruction to hit a hard ground ball.
Draw first blood— Score the first run of the game.
Dribbler— A weak ground ball that just dribbles on the ground.
*Ducks on the pond— Describing multiple runners on base.
*Duck snort— A fly ball that barely makes it over the infield for a hit. I have heard two variations.This could either describe a duck sneezing with the spray not going very far or duck flatulence with the feathers not moving very much as the gas is passed. This is my favorite saying.
*Dying quail— A fly ball that barely makes it over the infield for a base hit, similar to a bird being shot out of the air.
Empty the bases— A hit that scores all the runners on base.
Firewood— A broken bat.
Finding a hole— A ball hit between fielders.
Finding a gap— A ball hit between outfielders.
*Fence buster— A power hitter.
*Flare— A soft hit to the outfield.
Four-bagger— A home run.
*Frozen rope— A hard hit line drive.
*Gap Hitter— Hitters who hit the ball with power to the alleys in right and left field. I love these hitters because I love doubles!!
*Get out of town— A phrase used to describe a home run. I typically say, “Get out of my house!”
*Get ’em on…get ’em over…get ’em in— A hitting strategy to get hitters on, move them to second or third (typically with a sacrifice bunt or hit), and then drive them in with another sacrifice or hit.
Golden sombrero— Hitters who strike out four times in one game.
Going downtown— A home run
Going Yard— A home run
*Goodbye Mr. Spaulding— A phrase used to describe a home run. I will modify this phrase to incorporate the brand of ball pitched to my hitters. This phrase was also made more popular in one of my favorite movies, “The Natural”.
Good wood— A ball that is hit hard.
Got all of it— Description of a long home run.
Got some pop— Hitters with power.
Grand Salami— A grand slam home run.
Grip it and rip it— Instruction to swing hard without thinking too much.
Guard the plate— Instruction with two strikes on hitters to make sure they don’t look at the third strike without swinging.
Hacker— Hitters who swing often and swing hard.
*Happy zone— The perfect area for hitters to hit the ball hard. Hitters often have a favorite part of the strike zone that is easiest for them to consistently hit the ball well.
*Hit a seed— A ball that is hit hard, which makes it look smaller. A variation is “Hit a BB”.
Hit it on the nose— Instruction to hit the ball squarely on the sweet spot of the bat or the ball. My favorite alternative to this is, “Hit it on the screws”.
Hitch— Hitters who hesitate at some point during the swing, instead of a fluid motion. These hitters have a “hitch” in their swing.
Hitter’s count— When the count favors hitters, like 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, and 3-1.
Hitter’s park— A field with short home run walls.
*Hole in the swing— Hitters who swing and miss the ball.
*Human rain delay— Hitters who take too much time out of the batter’s box to prepare (multiple practice swings, tightening batting gloves, adjusting the uniform, superstitious rituals, etc.) after each pitch.
*Hump back liner— A short fly ball hit to the outfield that has the same arc as a whale’s body.
Igniter— A player who starts a hitting rally.
Jack— A home run.
Juiced— A hard hit ball. Like hitting a piece of fruit hard, causing the juices to come out.
Laced— A ball hit so hard, the laces on the ball could be broken.
Launched— A ball hit hard, like a rocket taking off.
*Little bingo— A base hit.
Lock and load— Instruction to hit the ball hard, Similar to “Grip it and Rip It”, but using gun imagery.
Locked in— Hitters on a streak who are seeing the ball well.
Loud out— A hard hit ball that is caught for an out.
Mash— A hard hit ball.
*Mendoza line— A batting average below .200. Named after former Major League player Mario Mendoza, who was known for his low average.
Mistake hitter— Hitters who are adept at taking advantage of pitcher’s mistakes, like a “hanging curve ball”. This is a pitch that appears to hang in the air without curving, which is easier to hit.
Monster shot or moon Shot— A long home run.
*No doubter— A long home run.
*One more biscuit for breakfast— Hitters who could have used a little more strength after hitting a ball just short of going over the wall for a home run.
Oppo— A ball that is hit to the opposite field.
*Park one— Encouragement to hit a home run into the parking lot.
Peeking— Hitters who try to look at the hand signals being given to the pitcher by the catcher.
Pick one out— An Instruction to be selective at the plate.
Productive out— When hitters advance a base runner, even though they were out on the play.
Pull the trigger–Encouragement to swing the bat.
*Punch and Judy hitter–Hitters who are known for weak ground balls and short fly ball hits.
Rainmaker— A fly ball that is hit very high in the air.
*Rake— To hit the ball consistently well.
*Rattle the bats— Encouragement to get a team to start getting some hits.
Ribbie— Slang for RBI
Round tripper— A home run.
Ruthian— Hitters who hit long home runs. A reference to Babe Ruth.
*Sawed off— This is when hitters swing at a hard inside pitch and hit the ball near the handle of the bat. This often results in a broken bat or even a bat that breaks into two pieces.
*Screamer— A hard hit ball.
Sitting on a fastball/curveball— Hitters who look for a certain pitch to hit.
Slugfest— A high scoring game.
Spark plug— Hitters who start a rally.
*Squibber— A ball hit off the end of the bat causing side-spin, which make the ball difficult to field.
Straighten it out— Encouragement to hit the ball in fair territory after a foul ball.
String a few together— Consecutive hits or runs.
Stroke— To swing the bat.
Sweet swing— a smooth powerful swing.
Swing for the downs— A home run swing.
Table setter–Hitters who get on base in front of power hitters.
*Tape Measure— A long home run.
Tattooed— A ball that is hit very hard.
Teeing off— Hitters who hit the ball hard off a pitcher, as if it was on a batting tee.
*Texas Leaguer— A fly ball that lands just over the infield for a hit. Supposedly, in the mid-1800s three minor league players from the Texas League were promoted to the major leagues and were known for hitting week fly balls.
*Torque one— This is my contribution to the language of baseball and softball. Hitters who “torque one” use the multiple points of resistance in their swings to maximize bat speed, power, and consistency.
Touch ’em all— Expression after a home run.
Unload— To hit the ball as hard as possible.
Walk off— A hit that ends the game.
*Warning track power— Hitters who don’t enough power to hit home runs.
Went fishing— Hitters who reach across the plate to swing at pitches out of the strike zone.
*Wheelhouse— An area in the strike zone where hitters like to hit pitches.
Whiff— A swinging strike or a strike out.
Work the count— Hitters who are selective and force pitchers to throw more pitches until they get the one they want to hit.
*Worm burner— A hit ball that stays close to the ground.
Yanked— A ball that is pulled.
If anyone has any other fun baseball/softball slang or sayings focused on hitting, please send them to me.