Baseball is a universal language. Catch the ball, throw the ball, hit the ball.
PETE ROSE, My Prison Without Bars
Baseball is an American pastime (and a spring and summer tradition for many), so it makes sense that Americans use English baseball idioms in their daily speech. Do you know these English baseball idioms?
English Baseball Idioms
(To hit a) homerun/to hit one out of the park
Definition: To do or perform something very well.
Relation to baseball: When a batter (the person who hits the ball) hits a homerun and scores a point for his or her team.
Example: You hit one out of the park with your presentation! Congrats!
Definition: An accurate guess (approximation) of a price, a number, or a total.
Relation to baseball: The term “ballpark figure” was used to describe approximately how many people attended a baseball game.
Example: Could you please give me a ballpark figure of the project’s total cost?
Definition: To fail or be unsuccessful.
Relation to baseball: A hitter’s turn is finished (and he or she does not get to move to first base) if they strike out.
Example: He asked for her number, but she said no. We all strike out sometimes!
To throw someone a curve ball
Definition: To present someone with a challenge when they do not expect it.
Relation to baseball: A pitcher (the person who throws the ball) can make the ball spin or curve; this confuses the batter because the ball is difficult to hit.
Example: The professor really threw us a curve ball on our quiz: he asked us what his name was, and half the class couldn’t remember!
Definition: To make (or renew) contact with someone.
Relation to baseball: A player touches first, second, or third base (or home plate) to make contact with the base. After the person touches a base, he or she is “safe” and cannot be called “out.”
Example: I need to touch base with my group members and see what I need to do for our presentation.
To go to bat for someone
Definition: To support someone when the person needs help.
Relation to baseball: Another play can bat (try to hit the ball) for another person.
Example: My boss went to bat for me when the company wanted to lower my job’s hours.
Definition: To act or work aggressively or competitively (usually in business or politics).
Relation to baseball: Playing hardball is playing aggressively or playing with a strong desire to win.
Example: We thought it was a friendly company baseball game, but the other team was really playing hardball!
Out of one’s league
Definition: To be in a situation where you are competing against another person/team who is more prepared, more skilled, or has a higher level than yours.
Relation to baseball: Most teams play in a league where other teams have the same abilities. (For example, beginners play on teams that play against other beginner teams.) To be out of one’s league is to play against other teams who are much better.
Would you like to see a professional baseball game while you are studying English in the Bay Area? IEC@DVC often organizes trips to see the San Francisco Giants play! Join us for our next trip and cheer on* the Giants to another World Series win!
*cheer on = to support