Baseball Terms Glossary
(Starting with "C")
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This is an alphabetical list of selected unofficial and specialized terms,
phrases, and other jargon used in baseball, and their
definitions, including illustrative examples for many entries.
- The group of teams that conduct their pre-season spring training exhibition
games in Arizona where the cactus grows in abundance. See also Grapefruit
- A caddy's sole function is to come in as a substitute in the late innings of a lopsided game to act as a defensive replacement for an aging power hitter or to pinch run.
- A reference to Babe Ruth's Called Shot home run in the fifth inning
of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, held on October 1, 1932 at Wrigley
Field in Chicago.
- A Major League team may call up or promote a player from the minor
leagues during the season to take a spot on its roster, often to replace
a player who has been sent down to the minor leagues or else placed
on the disabled list. Players who have been in the major leagues previously
(and were sent down) may be said to be recalled rather than called up.
After August 31st, several minor leaguers may be called up to take a
spot on the expanded roster.
- A season. The "2006 campaign" is the 2006 Major League season.
"Johan Santana has never had a losing record against the Tigers
in a season, but he could have one in 2007 if he doesn't win this game.
He's 1-2 with a 3.12 ERA against Detroit, after going 10-2 against them
prior to this campaign."
can of corn
- An easily-caught fly ball. The phrase comes from the act of a general
store clerk reaching up, tipping and catching cans from a shelf to fill
a customer order. The reason a can of corn was considered the easiest
"catch" is that corn was the best selling vegetable in the
store and so was heavily stocked on the lowest shelves. Frequently used
by Chicago White Sox broadcaster Ken "The Hawk" Harrelson.
Also, a phrase used in the expression of mild excitement, general agreement
or indication from one person to another that completion of said task
is in order.
- A manager who often takes a pitcher out of the game at the first sign of trouble.
Sparky Anderson is perhaps the best example of a "Captain Hook" at the
major league level. See hook.
- When a pitcher quickly dispatches a batter with three or four pitches
that the batter only whiffs at, the pitcher may be said to have "carved
up the batter" – like a chef carving up a turkey. Headline: "How
Buehrle carved up Tampa Bay with just one 90-m.p.h. pitch".
- A desirable or auspicious situation. Popularized by Red Barber, longtime
broadcaster for the Brooklyn Dodgers. James Thurber wrote in his short
story of the same title: "[S]itting in the catbird seat" means
sitting pretty, like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him.
The catbird is said to seek out the highest point in a tree to sing
his song, so someone in the catbird seat is high up.
catch up to a fastball
- As if a batter were running a footrace with a fastball, he's said
to "catch up" to a fastball if his reaction time and bat speed are quick
enough to hit a fastball by a power pitcher. "Our scouting reports indicate
he can still hit and still catch up to a fastball. As long as he can
catch up to a fastball, he's going to get the money."
- It is catcher's interference when the catcher physically hinders the batter's
opportunity to swing at a pitch. In profession baseball, play continues,
and after continuous playing action ceases, the umpire calls time. The
penalty is that the batter is awarded first base, any runner attempting
to steal is awarded that base, and all other runners advance only if
forced. The manager of the offensive team has the option of keeping
the result of the play. He will not be given the option by the umpires
and must explicitly declare it before the play continues after awarding
bases. The catcher is charged with an error. This is one of many types
of interference call.
- From Open-site.org: A term used when the third strike is called on a batter
without the batter attempting to swing at the pitch.
- A baserunner who is tagged out because he wasn't paying attention
to what the defensive players were doing is "caught napping."
Often this involves a pickoff play in which the infielder sneaks up
behind the runner and takes a throw from the pitcher, or, less often,
- Last place, bottom of the standings. A team that spends too much time in last
place, especially over a stretch of years, tends to acquire the unflattering
title of cellar dweller. SYNONYM: basement.
- A baseball pitched with the intent to break out of the strike zone that fails to break and ends up hanging in the strike zone; an unintentional slow fastball with side spin resembling a fixed-axis spinning cement mixer, which does not translate.
- Specifically regarding a batter: A seat on the bench, as opposed to reaching base or remaining in the batter's box. As in, "throw him the chair." The expression is an encouragement to the pitcher to strike out the batter, sending him back to the dugout, thus "throwing him the chair" — forcing him to sit down.
challenge the hitter
- When a pitcher is aggressive and throws strikes, perhaps his best
fastball, he may be said to "challenge the hitter." Akin to
pounding the strike zone or attacking the strike zone.
- A changeup or a change is a pitch meant to look like a fastball, but
with less velocity; short for change of pace. A variety of this pitch
is the circle change, where a circle is formed using the thumb and index
finger on the last third of a ball. This causes the ball to break inside
and down to right-handed batter from a right-handed pitcher, frequently
resulting in ground balls. Also, a straight change, made famous by Pedro
Martinez of the New York Mets, can be utilized. The grip requires all
fingers to be used in holding the ball, resulting in more friction,
thus slowing the ball down tremendously.
charging the mound
- Charging the mound refers to a batter assaulting the pitcher after
being hit by a pitch. The first incidence of a professional charging
the mound has not been identified but the practice certainly dates
back to the game's early days. Charging the mound is often the precipitating
cause of a bench-clearing brawl and will most likely result in the
- In the famous Pine Tar Game, George Brett charged home plate to
protest the umpire's ruling that his apparent 2-run home run was
hit with an illegal bat. Brett was tossed from the game.
- To chase (or chase after) is to swing at a pitch well outside
of the strike zone.
- A pitcher who is removed from the game by the manager because
he gave up too many runs is said to have been "chased from
the game" or "chased from the mound" by the opposing
batters. "Pettitte was chased from the game in the seventh
inning following an RBI single by Willy Taveras and a two-RBI triple
by Kazuo Matsui."
- A player or coach who is ejected from the game by an umpire can
be said to be chased. "Martin was tossed by umpire Lee Weyer
in the fourth game of the 1976 Series, seven years after Weaver
was chased by Shag Crawford in the fourth game in 1969."
- To verbally challenge or taunt to distract the opposing batter. Fans and players, alike, participate in chatter. "Heybattabattabatta" is an example of common baseball chatter.
- A run that comes about from luck or with little effort by the offensive
team. Headline: "A Cheap Run for the Rays." Story: "Carl
Crawford got lucky with that blooper down the line; wasn't a bad pitch
from Jamie Moyer.
check the runner
- When the pitcher looks in the direction of a runner on base, and thereby
causes him to not take as large of a lead as he would otherwise have
- A batter checks a swing by stopping it before the bat crosses the front of
home plate. If he fails to stop it in time, the umpire will call a strike
because he swung at the pitch. Often the umpire's view of the swing
is obstructed. If the umpire calls the pitch a ball, a defensive player
such as the catcher or pitcher can ask the home plate umpire to ask
another umpire whether the batter swung at the pitch. In such a case,
the home plate umpire always accepts the judgment of the other umpire.
- A fastball, particularly one that reaches the mid- to upper-90s in
velocity. Also high cheese.
- A high and tight, up and in pitch meant to knock a batter back from
home plate to avoid being hit on the chin. Also known as a brush-back
or purpose pitch.
- A blooper, a dying quail, a bleeder.
- A chopper refers to a batted ball that immediately strikes the hardened area of dirt directly in front of home plate. This causes the ball to jump high into the infield air. Batters who are fast runners can convert such choppers into base hits. Also a batted ball that bounces several times before either being fielded by an infielder or reaching the outfield.
- A batter "chokes up" by sliding his hands up from the knob
end of the bat to give him more control over his bat. It reduces the
power and increases the control. Prior to driving in the Series-winning
hit with a bloop single in the 2001 World Series, Luis Gonzalez choked
up on the bat. Thus he came through, and did not "choke" in
- Throw. A pitcher is sometimes referred to as a chucker or someone who can really chuck the ball. In San Francisco, sometimes the fans are referred to as battery chuckers, referring to an incident a few years ago where many fans threw batteries onto the field.
- The on-deck circle, officially known as the next batter's box.
- An outstanding catch, usually when a fielder has to leave his feet or go through contortions to make, resembling a circus acrobat in the process.
- When a batter hits a ball through the infield without it being touched
by a fielder, he may be said to have a "clean hit." Similarly,
if a batter hits a ball over an outfielder's head, he may have a "clean
hit." "Tris truly loved to hit and would always get a thrill
when getting a 'clean' hit that travelled over an outfielder's head."
- When a team pitches and plays defense without mental or physical errors
or allowing the other team to score runs or advance runners easily.
"I want to see clean innings," Cooper said. "This is a time when we
should be seeing them -- crisp, clean innings. Yet we're hitting guys
that are trying to bunt, walking guys on four pitches. . . . This is
not young kids doing this stuff. This is ridiculous. I don't care who
it is. It shouldn't be happening. We've got to clean it up. I'd like
to see some clean innings sooner or later. We should be throwing strike
one, strike two, make some pitches. We're all over the place. We're
not even close to the strike zone."
- The fourth batter in the lineup, usually a power hitter. The strategy
is to get some runners on base for the cleanup hitter to drive home.
In theory, if the first three batters of the game were to load the bases,
the #4 hitter would ideally "clean up" the bases with a grand
clear the bases
- A batter who drives home all the runners on base is said to "clear the bases."
"Dikito's bases-clearing triple sent the pro-Falcon crowd into a frenzy."
climbing the ladder
- A tactic where a pitcher delivers a succession of pitches out of the
strike zone, each higher than the last, in an attempt to get the batter
to swing at a pitch "in his eyes."
- A relief pitcher who is consistently used to "close" or
finish a game by getting the final outs. Closers are often among the
most overpowering pitchers, and sometimes even the most erratic. Alternatively,
they might specialize in a pitch that is difficult to hit, such as the
splitter or the cut fastball.
- See "throw
- A team's locker room, which may also include eating, entertainment, and workout facilities, especially at the highest professional level.
- Good performance under pressure when good performance really matters.
May refer to such a situation (being in the clutch), or to a player
(a good clutch hitter or one who "can hit in the clutch"),
or to specific hits ("that was a clutch hit"). Most baseball
fans believe that clutch hitting exists, but there is significant disagreement
among statheads whether clutch hitting is a specific skill a player
can possess or instead just something that good hitters in general do.
An old synonym for clutch is pinch, as in Christy Mathewson's book,
Pitching in a Pinch.
- Symbol of going hitless in a game, suggested by its resemblance to
a zero, along with the implication of "choking"; to wear the collar:
"If Wright doesn't get a hit here, he'll be wearing an 0 for 5 collar
on the day." Also, to take the collar: "Cameron Maybin took the
collar in his major league debut, striking out twice."
- A ball batted directly back to the pitcher.
- The ability of a pitcher to throw a pitch where he intends to. More
than just the ability to throw strikes, it is the ability to hit particular
spots in or out of the strike zone. Also see location.
- A complete game (denoted by CG) is the act of a pitcher pitching an entire game himself, without the benefit of a relief pitcher. A complete game can be either a win or a loss. A complete game can be awarded to a pitcher even if he pitches less than (or more than) nine-innings, as long as he pitches the entire game.
- A hitter who does not strike out often. Thus, he's usually able to
make contact with the ball and put it in play. This doesn't mean he's
necessarily a pitty-patty slap hitter. He may hit for power, but typically
with more doubles/triples instead of home runs. Pete Rose and Wade Boggs
are both excellent examples of contact hitters.
- See pitch
- A pitcher who gives up very few bases on balls or has excellent command
of his pitches. Also known as a control pitcher.
- When a player hits an inside-the-park home run.
- A bat in which cork (or possibly rubber or some other elastic material)
has been inserted into the core of the wooden barrel. Although modifying
a bat in this way may help to increase bat speed or control by making
the bat lighter, contrary to popular belief it does not impart more
energy to the batted ball. A batter could achieve a similar effect by
choking up on the bat or using a shorter bat. A player who is caught
altering his bat illegally is subject to suspension or other penalties.
The last such case in Major League Baseball involved the slugger Sammy
- The left fielder and right fielder are corner outfielders.
- A third baseman.
- The number of balls and strikes a batsman has in his current at bat. Usually announced as a pair of numbers, for instance "3-0" (pronounced "three and oh"), with the first number being the number of balls and the second being the number of strikes. A 3-2 count – one with the maximum number of balls and strikes in a given at bat – is referred to as a full count. A count of 1-1 or 2-2 is called even, although the pitcher is considered to have the advantage on a 2-2 pitch because he can still throw another ball without consequence, whereas another strike means the batter is out. A batter is said to be ahead in the count (and a pitcher behind in the count) if the count is 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, or 3-1. A batter is said to be behind in the count (and a pitcher ahead in the count) if the count is 0-1, 0-2, or 1-2.
- "He hit the ball a country mile." He hit the ball a long way -- a long home run. Sometimes also used to describe outs: "he was out by a country mile" means the runner was nowhere close to being safe.
- A pitcher who is easy for a particular batter to hit.
covering a base
- Part of the infielders' job is to cover bases. That is, they stand
next to a base in anticipation of receiving the ball thrown from
another fielder, so that they may make a play on an opposing baserunner
who is approaching that base. On a force play or an appeal play,
the fielder covering the base stands with one foot on that base
when he catches the ball.
- When a fielder goes to make a play at a base that is not his position
(usually because the fielder for that base is unavailable to catch
the ball at that base because he is busy fielding the batted ball).
A common example is when the first baseman fields a batted ground
ball, but is too far from the base to put the runner out. The pitcher
runs over to "cover" first base to take the throw from
the first baseman (play would be scored as "31", meaning
first baseman to pitcher).
crack of the bat
- The sound of the bat hitting the ball. The term is used in baseball to mean "immediately, without hesitation." For example, a baserunner may start running "on the crack of the bat," as opposed to waiting to see where the ball goes.
- Outfielders often use the sound of bat-meeting-ball as a clue to how
far a ball has been hit. As physicist Robert Adair has written,"When
a baseball is hit straight at an outfielder he cannot quickly judge
the angle of ascent and the distance the ball will travel. If he waits
until the trajectory is well defined, he has waited too long and will
not be able to reach otherwise catchable balls. If he starts quickly,
but misjudges the ball such that his first step is wrong (in for a long
fly or back for a short fly), the turn-around time sharply reduces his
range and he will again miss catchable balls. To help his judgment,
the experienced outfielder listens to the sound of the wooden bat hitting
the ball. If he hears a 'crack' he runs out, if he hears a 'clunk' he
- Similarly, with metal bats, the outfielders have to learn to distinguish a "ping" from a "plunk".
- A small baseball field considered to be friendly to power hitters
and unfriendly to pitchers. A bandbox.
- A player or team with power and whom are exceptionally skilled.
- another term for a control pitcher. Greg Maddux is a crafty pitcher.
- To hit a ball for extra bases, typically a home run. "Jeter cranked
a homer to left to make it 6-5." Also, a turn of the century (19th
century) euphemism for baseball spectators, referring to the cranking
of the turnstiles as they pass into the ballpark.
crawl back into the
- When one team is far behind the other, and it's about to be given
up for dead, it may "crawl back into the game" by scoring
a run or two and reviving hope that it might eventually bring off
a victory. "The Red Sox crawled back into the game in the fourth
inning, with four singles by Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, J. D.
Drew and Alex Gonzalez cutting the Toronto lead to one run."
This phrase is used in other sports as well.
- Also creep back or crept back into the game.
- A number other than a zero or a one, referring to the appearance of
the actual number. A team which is able to score two or more runs in
an inning is said to "hang a crooked number" on the scoreboard
or on the pitcher.
a catcher calls for the pitcher to throw one type of pitch (e.g.,
a fastball) but the pitcher throws another (e.g., a curveball),
the catcher has been crossed up. This may lead to a passed ball,
allowing a runner on base to advance. "Barrett's passed ball
allowed the last of three runs to score in the fifth as the Reds
increased their lead to 7-2. Williams' pitch crossed him up. 'I
was looking for a sinker, and it cut away from me,' Barrett said.
'I had a play at the plate, but my shin guard stuck in the grass.
It was a frustrating day.'"
- When a batter has been set up to expect a certain type of pitch
but instead receives a different one, he may be crossed up, perhaps
leading to a weakly hit ball or a swing and a miss.
crowd the hitter
- When a pitcher throws the ball toward the inside part of the plate, he may be trying to "crowd the hitter" by making it difficult for him to extend his arms and get a full swing at the pitch.
crowd the plate
- When a batter sets his stance extremely close to the plate, sometimes
covering up part of the strike zone. This angers pitchers and, if done
repeatedly, can lead to a brush-back pitch or even a beanball being
thrown at the batter to clear the plate. "I am fully aware that
when you crowd the plate, you're going to get a high heater."
crush the ball
- A batter who hits a ball extremely hard and far might be said to crush the ball, as if he had destroyed the baseball or at least changed its shape. Related expressions are crunched the ball or mashed the ball. Indeed, a slugger is sometimes described as a masher. Illustration: "Though the 25-year-old has impressed with two homers in five games, he's more of a pure hitter than a masher".
- Other types of baseball destruction include knocking the stuffing out of the ball and knocking the horsehide [cover] off the ball.
cue the ball
When a ball is hit off the end of the bat, the batter may be said to
have "cued the ball" (as if he hit it with a pool cue). "Kendrick
took third on a broken-bat ground-out and scored on a cued grounder to
first base by Ryan Shealy. . . ."
cup of coffee
- A short time spent by a minor league player at the major league level.
The idea is that the player was only there long enough to have a cup
of coffee. It can also be used to describe a very brief stay (less than
a season) with a major league club.
- A player who has excited the fans because of a great play or hit may come back onto the field or out of the dugout to wave or tip his cap to the crowd. A term obviously derived from the theater.
- A pitch that curves or breaks from a straight or expected flight path
toward home plate. Also called simply "a curve".
- A swing of the bat.
- To be removed from the roster or from the team.
- A cut fastball or cutter is a fastball that has lateral movement.
A "cut fastball" is similar to a slider that is more notable
for its speed than its lateral movement.
cut down on his swing
- When a batter reduces the amplitude of his swing, either by choking
up on the bat or just by starting his swing less far behind his head,
he "cuts down on his swing," thereby helping him to get his
bat around faster. Also "shorten his swing." "Guerrero
swung so hard during an 0-for-5 night Tuesday he looked as if he might
come right out of his spikes. So, Hatcher suggested Wednesday that Guerrero
widen his stance slightly, a move that forces hitters to cut down on
their swing a bit."
cut the ball off
- When a ball is hit in the gap between outfielders, a fielder often
has to make a choice whether to run toward the fence to catch or retrieve
the ball or to run toward the ball and try to field it before it gets
by him and reaches the fence. In the latter case, he's said to "cut
the ball off" because he's trying to shorten the path of the ball.
"When Granderson drifted towards left-center field on Carlos Pena's
fifth-inning line drive, he wasn't heading that direction to make a
catch. He was preparing to field it on the bounce. "I was actually
getting into position to cut the ball off," Granderson said after
the Tigers' 11-7 loss to the Rays Monday afternoon. "I didn't think
I was going to have a chance to catch it."
- A defensive tactic where a fielder that moves into a position between
the outfielder that has fielded the batted ball and the base where a
play can be made. This fielder is said to "cut off" the throw
or to be the "cut-off man". This tactic increases accuracy
over long distances and shortens the time required to get a ball to
a specific place. It also gives the cut-off man the choice of putting
out a trailing runner trying to advance on the throw if he thinks it
impossible to make the play at home. Missing the cut-off (man) is considered
a mistake by an outfielder (though not scored as an error) because it
may allow a runner to advance or to score.
- A fielder that "cuts off" a long throw to an important target.
Often the shortstop, second baseman, or first baseman, will be the "cut-off
man" for a long throw from the outfield to third base or home plate.
"Hit the cut-off man" is a common admonition from a coach.
- See hit
for the cycle.
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Published - February 2011
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