Baseball Terms

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On base. First used: McClure's Magazine, Apr. 1907.
(1) In the early days of baseball, the term used for a score, as called for in the 1845 rules of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club. First used: 1845, New York Morning News, Oct. 21. (2) A team's best pitcher. First used: 1902, The Sporting News, Nov. 15.
Baseball lore and tradition have always laid the origin of this term to one man. In 1869, pitcher Asa Brainard won 56 out of 57 games played by the Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball's first professional team. From then on, according to lore, any pitcher with a dazzling string of wins was called an "Asa," which later became "ace." -- Dickson Baseball Dictionary.
across the letters
A pitch passing the batter chest high.

Returning a player to a team's active roster following injury or suspension.
There is "activity in the bullpen" when one or more of a team's relief pitchers are warming up.
What a batter does when he moves a baserunner one or more bases with a hit, ground out, fly out or sacrifice; what a baserunner does when he moves from one base to the next.
advance scout
A scout who studies the strengths and weaknesses of a team that his team will play next.
"The term was first used by Casey Stengel, according to Tony Kubek (in George F. Will's Men at Work, 1990). The practice dates to the early 1950s when the Brooklyn Dodgers began sending an advance man to the Polo Grounds or to Philadelphia to scout the teams on their way to Ebbets Field." -- Dickson Baseball Dictionary.
aggressive hitter
A batter who swings at pitches out of the strike zone.
ahead in the count
When a pitcher has more strikes than balls in the count. Can also be applied to a batter who has a count containing more balls than strikes.
To throw the ball over another player's head.
(1)The portion of the outfield between the center fielder and the left or right fielders; also known as the "power alley" or the "gap". An "alley hitter" is a batter skilled at driving the ball into the alleys. (2) The dirt path between the pitcher's mound and home plate, common in the first half of the 20th century
When a pitcher gives up hits or runs.
All-American Amateur Baseball Association
Organization based in Johnstown, PA that advances, develops and regulates amateur baseball.
All-American Girls Professional League
A league that existed from 1943 to 1954, the brainchild of Chicago Cubs owner Philip Wrigley, and which consisted of as many as fifteen teams playing a hybrid of baseball and softball in such places as Rockford, Ill., Milwaukee, Wis. and Kalamazoo, Mich. The 1992 film A League of Their Own celebrated the league.
A player voted by the fans or chosen by the manager to appear in the mid-season All-Star Game. The method of selecting All-Stars have varied over the years. Beginning in 1933 or '34, fans voted for the players using ballots printed in the Chicago Tribune; managers voted in players from 1935 to 1946; fans made the selections from 1947 to 1957; rom 1958 to 1969 players, managers and coaches did the voting; since 1970 the fans do the voting. Critics claim allowing fans to vote turns the process into a popularity contest that sometimes ignores merit. The balloting process is funded by private companies; the Gillette Safety Razor Co. paid for it between 1970 and 1986. In 1987 USA Today began picking up the tab.
All-Star break
A three-day period in mid-July coinciding with the All-Star Game in which no regular season games are played.
All-Star Game
The annual interleague game played in July between players chosen as the best at their position. The players are selected by fan balloting, while pitchers, coaches and substitutes are chosen by selective managers -- who are, these days, the managers of two teams who played in the previous World Series. The first All-Star Game was played July 6, 1933 at Chicago's Comiskey Park, and was the brainchild of Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward. (In that first game, a two-run homer by Babe Ruth gave the AL a 4-2 victory.) Because of the war, an All-Star Game was not played in 1945, and the 1981 contest was postponed to August 9 because of that year's players' strike.  
Amateur Softball Association of America
Headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, the ASA consist of over 100 local associations and more than 260,000 teams involved in slow pitch, fast pitch and modified pitch programs in male, female and coed leagues with players aged 9 to 70. The association was created in 1933 to discuss a set of rules for a game scheduled to be played at Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition.
American Association
(1) This major league existed from 1882 to 1891 as a rival to the National League. It allowed Sunday games and beer sales at ballparks, charging half what the National League charged for admission. Even so, the AA floundered, and four of its teams -- Baltimore, Louisville, St. Louis and Washington were absorbed by the National League.
(2) A primarily Midwestern minor league established in 1903 as Class A through 1907, Class AA through 1945, and then Class AAA from 1946-62 and since 1969.
American Baseball Coaches Association
Organization based in Hinsdale, IL that consists of over 5,000 members and which originated the NCAA World Series.
American Baseball Congress
Headquartered in Battle Creek, MI, the ABC was founded in 1935 to support amateur baseball in the U.S. (It now has foreign affiliates.) It's seven divisions are named for major league players.
American Baseball Guild
A players' union organized by Boston attorney Robert Murphy in 1946 which gained some concessions -- including payment of spring training expenses, known as "Murphy money" -- before a failed strike that same year led to its dissolution.
American League
One of the two current major leagues, the AL was founded in 1901 by former sportswriter Byron Bancroft "Ban" Johnson and initially consisted of teams in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Washington DC. As it has not been in existence as long as the National League, it is sometimes referred to as the "junior circuit." There are several differences between the two leagues; the best known current difference is the existence of a designated hitter (adopted in 1973) in the AL. The AL presently consists of fourteen teams in three divisions: The East (Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Toronto Blue Jays), the Central (Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins), and the West (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland A's, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers).
American Legion Baseball
Founded in 1926, this American Legion-sponsored program for 15-18 year-olds concludes with an annual eight-team World Series tournament.
antitrust exemption
The 1922 Supreme Court decision that exempted baseball from the antitrust laws -- an exemption not enjoyed by other professional sports. The Curt Flood Act (1998) revoked portions of the exemption pertaining particularly to labor relations.
ant killer
A grounder hit so hard that it would kill insects in its path. First used: Chicago Inter-Ocean, July 7, 1874.
Aparicio double
A walk and a stolen base. A sequence of events that seemed relatively common when shortstop Aparicio came up to bat. First used: New York Times, Sept. 27, 1959.
Popular baseball board game created in 1931 by J. Richard Seitz that is now available as a computer game. The name is derived from the original American Professional Baseball Association.
(1) When the catcher or pitcher request that the home plate umpire consult the first-base or third-base umpire to determine whether the batter swung (or "offered") at a pitch, in which case a strike would be registered; (2) when a player for has been subjected to disciplinary action asks to plead his case to the commissioner's office.
appeal play
A play that must be made in conjunction with an appeal, and prior to the delivery of the next pitch. "If a baserunner neglects to touch a base when running, it is the responsibility of the defensive team, not the umpire, to claim the violation. Tio make an appeal play in a dead-ball situation, the pitcher must first put the ball back in play by stepping on the pitching rubber, then stepping off the rubber and throwing the ball to a teammate who tags the base in question. At this point the umpire decides if the runner is safe and out." -- Dickson Baseball Dictionary.  The same process takes effect if the defensive team believes a baserunner left a base too early.
To take part in a baseball game.
appearance clause
A clause in a pitcher's contract that awards him a bonus if he appears in a certain number of games.
A procedure in place since 1974, in which a player can request the intervention of an independent labor arbitrator if he and his team cannot reach agreement on a new contract. The arbitrator determines whether that player is being fairly paid and, if not, can set a salary based on comparability to other players. The judgment is binding and final. The player making the request must have less than six years seniority and more than two years (as of 1986). Free agents are ineligible for arbitration.
Arby's RBI Award
An award given every year since 1986 to the hitter in each league with the most RBIs. For each run batted in, $1000 is donated to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. The award given to the player is called the Hank Aaron Trophy. The prize is coproduced by the Arby's fast-food chain and MLB.
Arizona Fall League
An instructional league that plays during the autumn months.
(1) A player's throwing or pitching ability. (2) A term used for a pitcher, or for a fielder who has the ability to throw long and accurately. First used: New York Sunday Mercury, 1963.
A team's pitching staff.
around the horn
(1) A double play that goes from third base to second to first. (2) Throwing the ball around the infield for practice or show before a game or between innings. According to Casey Stengel, infielders were throwing 'round the horn as early as 1912.
arson squad
A bullpen notorious for routinely allowing the opposition to score. In contrast to a bullpen of "firemen" who can be counted on to put out the other team's offensive "fire."
Baseball bat. Most bats used in the MLB are made of northern white ask (Fraxinus americana), which si found in Pennsylvania, Canada, and New York's Adirondack Mountains. First used: Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, July 17, 1872.
A pitch thrown so fast that the ball appears to be smaller than it really is.
A throw from one fielder to another that puts out a batter or baserunner.
Association of Professional Baseball Players of America
Non-profit organization that lends a helping hand to ill, handicapped or impoverished former players.
Any time the batter gets a hit, makes an out, or reaches base on an error or fielder's choice. A batter makes a plate appearance but is not credited with an at-bat if he is walked, hit by a pitch, completes a sacrifice, or reaches base on a catcher's interference. First used: New York Sunday Mercury, August 10, 1861.
attack point
A point given for every total base and steal by a team in the Japanese Central League. The final tally is used to determine the victor if the game ends in a tie.
The act of trying to steal a base.
To swing the bat/hit the ball with power and purpose.
automatic out
A batter who rarely hits or walks. Some pitchers are considered automatic outs.
A class of baseball statistics that includes batting average, earned run average and slugging average.
(1) Used to describe a game played in another team's ballpark (as opposed to a "home" game). A visiting team is, therefore, the "away" team. (2) A pitch thrown out of the strike zone on the side of the plate opposite where the batter stands.