Baseball Terms Glossary
(Starting with "D")
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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.
- Old-fashioned term for a hard-hit ground ball, close enough to the grass to theoretically be able to lop the tops off any daisies that might be growing on the field.
- The term used to describe the erratic movement that defines a well-thrown
knuckleball. eg: "Hopefully his knuckler doesn't dance and hangs
a little, or we're in trouble."
- A pitch that is difficult to see, much less hit. "Throw him the dark one," is an encouragement to the pitcher, typically given with two strikes, to throw a strike past the batter.
- When a normally effective or dominant pitcher seems unable to throw
as hard as he usually does, he may be said to have a "dead arm". "If
you have watched the radar gun when Carlos Zambrano has pitched this
month, you know something's not right. The problem, the Cubs right-hander
said Saturday, is that he's going through a 'dead arm' phase."
- The ball becomes "dead" (i.e., the game's action is stopped)
after a foul ball and in cases of fan or player interference, umpire
interference with a catcher, and several other specific situations.
When the ball is dead, no runners may advance beyond bases they are
entitled to, and no runners may be put out. The ball becomes "live"
again when the umpire signals that play is to resume.
Dead Ball Era
- The period between 1903 and 1918, just prior to the Live Ball Era,
when the composition of the baseball along with other rules tended to
limit the offense, and the primary batting strategy was the inside game.
In this case the ball literally was "dead", relatively speaking.
Hitting a home run over the fence was a notable achievement.
dead pull hitter
- A pull hitter is a batter who generally hits the ball to the same
side as which he bats. That is, for a right-handed batter, who bats
from the left side of the plate, will hit the ball to left field. Hitters
are often referred to as dead pull if they rarely do anything other
than pull the ball. A contemporary example of a dead pull hitter is
- If a batter is "sitting/looking dead red" on a pitch, this means he
was looking for a pitch (typically a fastball), and received it, usually
hitting a home run or base hit. Also see shoot the cripple.
- Delivery of a pitch, commonly used by play-by-play announcers as the pitcher
releases the ball, e.g., "Smith deals to Jones".
- Pitching effectively, e.g., "Smith is really dealing tonight".
- A player trade, or exchange (a common term to all American team sports). Also sometimes used as a verb: "The Yankees dealt Sheffield to the Tigers."
deep in the count
- When a pitcher gets to a 3 balls-0 strike, 3 balls-1 strike, or 3
balls-2 strike count with a batter, a situation that tends to favor
the batter. "In his fourth start after missing two months following
elbow surgery, Robertson (2-2) went deep in the count against many hitters
but allowed just five hits and two earned runs in five innings."
- When the defense allows a baserunner to advance one or more bases.
The runner then does not get credit for a stolen base because the base
was "given" not "stolen." The defense may allow
this in the ninth inning with a large lead, where the focus is on inducing
the final batters to make outs.
- To deliver is to pitch. Announcer: "Koufax delivers. . . . Strike three!!!"
- Delivery refers to the basic arm angles of pitchers, e.g.,
overhand delivery, sidearm delivery. This is in contrast to cricket,
in which the term "delivery" is akin to type of pitch in baseball.
- In the American League, the designated hitter (DH) is a player who
permanently hits in the place of a defensive player (usually the pitcher)
and whose only role in the game is to hit. The National League does
not usually use designated hitters. However, in interleague play, when
American League and National League teams face off against one another,
the DH rule is used by both teams when the game is played in an American
League ballpark, and by neither team when the game is played in a National
- A curveball, because the catcher's sign is usually made by extending
the first two fingers.
- A double play.
- From playing cards, where the "2" card is conventionally called the
- When a large quantity of the number "2" appears on the scoreboard
at the same time: 2 baserunners, 2 outs, 2 balls and 2 strikes on the
batter. Derived from poker term "deuces are wild". Often used
by Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully.
- An abbreviation of the term "designated for assignment".
dial long distance
- To hit a home run. Headline: "Sox Sluggers Dial Long Distance
— Ramirez, Ortiz Each Crank Two-Run Homers." The phrase is sometimes
stated as "Dial 9 for long distance."
- The layout of the four bases in the infield. It's actually a square
90 feet (27 m) on each side, but from the stands it resembles a parallelogram
didn't mean to
- When a batter tries not to swing at a pitch (to "hold up on his swing")
but the ball hits the bat and rebounds into fair territory, he makes
a "didn't mean to" swing, perhaps even a "didn't mean to hit." Mark
Grace will also refer to this as an "Oooops" or excuse me swing.
dig it out
- To field a ball on or near the ground. Usually a first baseman
taking a low throw from another infielder. To "dig it out of
- To run hard through first base on a close ground ball play in
an attempt to beat the throw.
- A home
- Another term for home
- To trip or fall in the outfield or on the base paths. A blown save may also be referred to as a dirt-nap.
- Major league teams may remove injured players from their active roster
temporarily by placing them on the "disabled list." Another
player can then be called up as a replacement during this time.
- A batter shows "plate discipline" by not swinging at pitches that are out
of the strike zone or at pitches that are in the strike zone but not
located where he can get the bat on the ball. Such a batter might be
described as a patient hitter.
- Home plate. "The catcher settles in behind the dish."
- A pitch, particularly a good one. "Here comes the dish" (the pitch),
or "He's really dishing it tonight" (pitching well).
diving over the plate
- When a batter tends to lean in toward the plate so that he can more
easily hit a ball that's on the outside of the strike zone, he's said
to be "diving over the plate" or "diving for the pitch."
To protect the strike zone, a pitcher may respond to this by pitching
the ball inside, perhaps with a "purpose pitch". "Now
Glavine has an equalizer with his cutter. He can bore it into the hands
of righthanders to keep them from diving over the plate with impunity
at his sinker and changeup."
- The disabled list. Sometimes used as a verb, as in "Wood was DL'ed yesterday."
doctoring the ball
- Applying a foreign substance to the ball or otherwise altering it
in order to put an unnatural spin on a pitch. Examples: By applying
Vaseline or saliva (a spitball), or scuffing with sandpaper, emery board
(an emery ball), or by rubbing vigorously to create a shiny area of
the ball (a shineball). All of these became illegal beginning in the
1920 season, helping to end the Dead Ball Era. ((Official Rules of Baseball,
Rule 8.02(a)). In practice, there are ambiguities about what kinds of
things a pitcher can legally do.
- A number of famous cases of doctoring the bat have also occurred in the Major
Leagues. See corked
- A hit where the batter makes it safely to second base before the ball
can be returned to the infield. Also a two-base
- When a fielder – usually an infielder or a catcher – draws his arm back twice
before throwing he's said to "double clutch." This hesitation often
leads to a delayed or late throw, allowing runners to advance a base.
A term borrowed from a method of shifting gears on an automotive vehicle.
- A pitcher who is getting a lot of quick outs. Implies that he has parked his car illegally and is trying to get back to it and avoid a ticket, and this is why he is keen to get outs quickly.
- A play by the defense where two offensive players are put out as a result of continuous action resulting in two outs. A typical example is the 6-4-3 double play.
- The double play combination (or DP combo) on a team consists of the
shortstop and the second baseman, because these players are the
key players in a 6-4-3 or 4-6-3 double play. They are also sometimes
called sackmates, a reference to the fact that they play
either side of second base (also known as second sack).
double play depth
- A defensive tactic that positions the middle infielders to be better
prepared for a double play at the expense of positioning for a hit to
the third-base side.
- Two runners attempt to simultaneously steal a base. Typically this is seen when runners who are on first and second make an attempt to steal second and third.
or on first and third, the runner on first steals second and trys to get the catcher to throw down to second so that the runner on third can steal home.
- The double switch is a type of player substitution that allows a manager
to make a pitching substitution and defensive (fielding) substitution
while at the same time improving the offensive (batting) lineup of a
team. This is most effectively used when a pitcher needs to be replaced
while his team in on defense, and his turn to bat is coming up in his
team's next offensive try. Rather than replace the pitcher with another
pitcher, a position player (one who recently batted in his team's last
offensive try) is replaced with a new pitcher, and the outgoing pitcher
is replaced by a player able to play the position of the outgoing position
player. The two subs then trade to their natural defensive roles, but
keep the batting order positions of those they replaced, so when the
team next comes up to bat, it is the newly subbed position player who
hits during the turn of the vacated pitcher, and the new pitcher does
not have to hit until the old position player's turn comes up again.
The double switch is primarily used by the National League and Japan's
Central League, which do not use the designated hitter rule.
- When a runner becomes the second out in a double play, he may
be said to have been doubled up (or doubled off). This could be
a batter who has hit into a double play or a runner who is caught
off base when an outfielder catches a fly ball and throws behind
the runner to a fielder who touches the base to complete a double
play (hence "doubling up" the runner).
- A team that wins a doubleheader may be described as doubling up
the opponent: "Royals double up Blue Jays".
- When two games are played by the same two teams on the same day. When the
games are played late in the day, they are referred to as a "twilight-night"
or "twinight" doubleheader. When one game is played in the afternoon
and one in the evening (typically with separate admission fees), it
is referred to as a "day-night" doubleheader. A doubleheader can also
be referred to as a Twinbill. In minor league baseball, doubleheader
games are often scheduled for 7 innings rather than the 9 innings that
is standard for a regulation game.
- According to the Dickson dictionary, the term is thought to derive from a railroading term for using two joined engines (a "double header") to pull an exceptionally long train.
- A gap
- Put out. "One down" means one out has been made in the inning (two more to
go in the inning). "One up (and) one down" means the first batter in
the inning was out. "Two down" means two outs have been made in the
inning (one more to go). "Two up (and) two down": the first two batters
of the inning were retired (made outs). "Three up, three down": side
retired in order.
down the line
- On the field near the foul lines, often used to describe the location
of batted balls.
down the middle
- Over the middle portion of home plate, used to describe the location
of pitches. Also referred to as down the pipe, down Main Street, down
Broadway, and, in Atlanta, down Peachtree. Very different from up the
- A slang term for a shortstop and second baseman combination, as primary
executors of double plays. They are also occasionally referred to as
sackmates. Generally speaking, only the best sets of middle infielders
get called DP combos.
- A bunt in which a left-handed hitter lays down a bunt out of the reach
of the pitcher and toward the right side of the infield, in hopes that
he will safely reach first base. Often such a bunt has an element of
surprise to take advantage of the batter's speed and the fact that the
first baseman and second basemen are playing their positions back. The
batter may even take a stride toward first base as he bunts the ball,
thereby appearing to drag the ball with him as he runs toward first
- A batter who gets called balls is sometimes said to have "drawn
a ball" or "drawn a walk." The term may derive from card
games, in which a player draws a card from the deck. "After a brief
pause to put specially marked baseballs in play, Bonds drew ball one
and ball two – with boos raining down on VandenHurk - before a called
first strike. Then, the 96 mph fastball was gone – a drive estimated
at 420 feet."
- When the outfield plays closer to the infield to prevent fly balls from dropping between them and the infielders, they are said to be "drawn in." This typically happens when the game is close in the final inning, and with less than two outs, and the defensive team wants to prevent the offense from getting base hits that might score the winning run (while conceding that a long fly ball might score a run even if the ball is caught in the outfield).
- The infield may also be drawn in if there is a runner on third base with less than two outs, so that the infielders may field a ground ball and attempt to throw out the runner at the plate.
- A single infielder, typically the third baseman or the first baseman may also
play "in" when it's anticipated that a batter may attempt to make
a sacrifice bunt.
- Hit by a pitch, plunked.
- A line drive (noun).
- To hit a line drive (verb). "Magglio drove the ball to center."
- To make hits that produce RBIs. "Tejada drove him home from second."
"Ramirez drove in three."
- To lose a game. "Tigers drop fourth in a row in loss to Blue
- To beat another team is also to drop them. Headline: "Dodgers
one win from clinching playoff berth after dropping Nationals".
- A sinkerball. Also known as a dropper or el droppo.
- Some extreme 12-to-6 curveballs are also referred to as "drop
balls," since they start high and dive as they reach the plate.
drop off the table
- Used to describe a pitched ball, usually a curveball, that breaks
dropped third strike
- A dropped third strike occurs when the catcher fails to cleanly catch a pitch which is a third strike (either because the batter swings and misses it or because the umpire calls it). The pitch is considered not cleanly caught if the ball touches the dirt before being caught, or if the ball is dropped after being caught. On a dropped third strike, the strike is called (and a pitcher gets credited with a strike-out), but the umpire indicates verbally that the ball was not caught, and does not call the batter out. If first base is not occupied at the time (or, with two outs, even with first base occupied), the batter can then attempt to reach first base prior to being tagged or thrown out. Given this rule, it is possible for a pitcher to record more than three strike-outs in an inning.
- A long string or streak of at bats or games in which a batter
goes hitless; or a string of starts in which a pitcher goes winless.
- Any other streak when a team goes winless or fails to reach the
playoffs or win a World Series. "The Red Sox drought of eighty-six
years was often attributed to the Curse of the Bambino" (see
1918 World Series).
- A softly hit ball that goes over the infielders and lands in the outfield
for a hit. Originally called a "duck fart," the term was popularized
by White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson to make it more family friendly.
ducks on the pond
- Runners on base, but especially when the bases are loaded. "His
batting average is .350 when there are ducks on the pond."
- A batter is said to be "due" when he's been in a hitting
slump, but he usually hits for a fair or better average. Example: "Joe
Mauer is 0-for-3 today, he's due for a hit." This is a baseball
version of the Gambler's fallacy.
- The dugout is where a team's bench is located. With the exception
of relief pitchers in the bullpen, active players who are not on the
field watch the play from the dugout. The term dugout refers to the
area being slightly depressed below field level, as is common in professional
baseball. There is typically a boundary, often painted yellow, defining
the edges of the dugout, to help the umpire make certain calls, such
as whether an overthrown ball is considered to be "in the bench"
or not. The rule book still uses the term bench, as there is no requirement
that it be "dug out" or necessarily below field level. The
original benches typically were at field level, with or without a little
roof for shade. As ballpark design progressed, box seats were built
closer to the field, lowering the height of the grandstand railing,
and compelling the dugout approach to bench construction.
- A player who bunts the ball may be said to dump a bunt. "Polanco dumped a
bunt down the third base line." See also lay
duster, dust-off pitch
- A pitch, often a brush-back, thrown so far inside that the batter
drops to the ground ("hits the dust") to avoid it. Somewhat
contradictorily, on the same play the pitcher may be said to have "dusted
off" the batter.
- A batted ball that drops in front of the outfielders for a hit, often
unexpectedly (like a shot bird). Also known as a blooper, a chinker,
a bleeder, or a gork.
See all sports glossaries:
Published - February 2011
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