Baseball Terms Glossary
(Starting with "F")
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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 World Series -- the championship series of Major League Baseball,
in which the champion of the American League faces off against the champion
of the National League. Typically, this series takes place in October,
so playing in October is the goal of any major league team. Reggie Jackson's
moniker "Mr. October" indicates that he played with great
distinction in the World Series for the Yankees. Another Yankee, Derek
Jeter, picked up the nickname "Mr. November" after he hit
a walk-off home run in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series just after midnight
local time on November 1. By comparison, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's
dubbing another of his players (Dave Winfield) "Mr. May" expressed
his disappointment with that player's performance in the Fall Classic.
- The one time the Fall Classic was actually played in the summer was
1918, when the season was curtailed due to World War I and the Series
was played in early September.
The one time the Fall Classic extended in to November was in 2001.
Jeter's walk-off homer was the first plate appearance in the month
of November in MLB history; the 2001 season had been delayed for several
days following 9/11, eventually pushing the start of the World Series
into the last week of October - and the end of the Series in to November.
fall off the table
- A pitch is said to "fall off the table" when it starts in
the strike zone or appears hittable to the batter and ends low or in
the dirt. This term is mainly used for change ups and split-fingered
fastballs, and occasionally for an overhand curveball.
- Fan (person) Main article: Fan (person)
A strong supporter of a player, a team, or the game in general.
This term originated in 19th century England as "the fancy"
to refer to those who followed or "fancied" boxing.
"The fancy" was shortened to "the fance,"
then "the fans" was adopted into baseball (replacing
the 19th century term "kranks" or "cranks").
Its use was reinforced by its apparent connection to the word
- To "fan" a batter is to strike him out, especially a
swinging strike three.
- When a fan or any person not associated with one of the teams alters
play in progress (in the judgment of an umpire), it is fan interference.
The ball becomes dead, and the umpire will award any bases or charge
any outs that, in his judgment, would have occurred without the interference.
This is one of several types of interference calls in baseball.
- If a fan touches a ball that is out of the field of play, such as
a pop fly into the stands, it is not considered to be fan interference
even if a defensive player might have fielded the ball successfully.
So the infamous case in Game 6 of the NLCS in which a Chicago Cubs fan,
Steve Bartman, attempted to catch a ball in foul territory thereby possibly
preventing Cubs leftfielder Moises Alou from making a circus catch,
was not a case of fan interference.
- A farm team is a team or club whose role it is to provide experience
and training for young players, with an expectation that successful
players will move to the big leagues at some point. Each Major League
Baseball team's organization has a farm system of affiliated farm teams
at different minor league baseball levels.
- A slugger.
- A pitch that is thrown more for high velocity than for movement; it's the
most common type of pitch. Also known as smoke, a bullet, a heater (you
can feel the heat generated by the ball), or a hummer (the ball can't
be seen, only heard).
- A count in which the pitcher would be ordinarily expected to throw
a fast ball, such as 3-1, 3-2, or 2-1, as fast ball are usually easiest
to locate in the strike zone. Occasionally a pitcher will pull the string
by throwing an off-speed pitch.
- When a pitcher relies too much on his fastball, perhaps because his
other pitches are not working well for him during that game, he's said
to be "fastball happy." This can get a pitcher into trouble if the batters
can anticipate that the next pitch will be a fastball. "Andy is at his
best when he trusts his breaking stuff and doesn't try to overpower
guys. When he gets fastball happy he gets knocked around".
- A pitch that is located exactly where the hitter is expecting it. The ball
may look bigger than it actually is, and the batter may hit it a long
- To throw the ball carefully to another fielder in a way that allows
him to make an out. A first-baseman who has just fielded a ground
ball will "feed the ball" to the pitcher who is running over from
the mound to make the force out at first base. An infielder who
has fielded a ground-ball will feed the ball to the player covering
second base so that the latter can step on the base and quickly
throw to first base to complete a double play.
- To draw energy from the fans. A newly-hired manager might say "I really think we can feed on the excitement that's already here."
- A baseball field or baseball diamond upon which the game of baseball is played.
- A ballfield, ballpark, or stadium (e.g., Dodger Stadium, Wrigley
Field, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome).
- To field the ball is to capture or make a play on a ground
ball or to catch a fly ball.
- To take the field means that the defensive players are going to their positions, while the other team is on the offense or at bat. "The Reds have taken the field, and Jose Reyes is leading off for the Mets."
- Any defensive player (as opposed to a batter).
- Often, defensive players are distinguished as either pitchers
or position players. Position players are further divided into infielders
- The head coach of a team is called the manager (more formally, the
field manager). He controls team strategy on the field. He sets the
line-up and starting pitcher before each game as well as making substitutions
throughout the game. In modern baseball the field manager is normally
subordinate to the team's general manager (or GM), who among other things
is responsible for personnel decisions, including hiring and firing
the field manager. However, the term manager used without qualification
almost always refers to the field manager.
- A fielder's choice (FC) is the act of a fielder, upon fielding a batted
ball, choosing to try to put out a baserunner and allow the batter-runner
to advance to first base. Despite reaching first base safely after hitting
the ball, the batter is not credited with a hit but would be charged
with an at-bat.
- An old-fashioned and more colorful way of saying "numbers nut",
for a fan with a near-obsessive interest in the statistics or "figures"
of the game. The first true "figger filbert" was probably
Ernest Lanigan, who was the first historian of the Baseball Hall of
Fame and prior to that was one of the first, if not the first, to publish
an encyclopedia of baseball stats, in the 1920s. In the modern era,
Bill James could be said to be the iconic "figger filbert".
He is also a founding father of the field of baseball research called
fight off a pitch
- When a batter has two strikes on him and gets a pitch that he cannot
hit cleanly, he may be said to "fight off the pitch" by fouling
it off. "Langerhans fought off one 3-2 pitch, then drove the next
one to the gap in left-center to bring home the tying and winning runs."
find a hole
- To get a base hit by hitting the ball between infielders. "The 13th
groundball that Zachry allowed found a hole".
find his bat
- When a batter has been in a slump perhaps for no evident reason, but
then starts getting hits, he may be said to "find his bat."
"With the Tigers having found their bats for a night, they reset
the series and put themselves in position to all but lock up the AL
find his swing
- When a batter has experienced a slump, he may take extra practice
or instruction to "find his swing." Perhaps he has a hitch
in his swing, or his batting stance has changed. Having "lost his
swing," now he must "find it." This phrase is also used
find the seats
- As if a ball leaving the bat is in search of a place to land, a ball that "finds the seats" is one that leaves the field of play and reaches the stands. It may either be a home run or a foul ball (out of the reach of the fielders).
- A pitcher who throws extremely high-velocity fastballs, in excess
of 95 miles per hour. A flamethrower.
- A team's top relief pitcher who is often brought in to end an offensive
rally and put out the fire. The term has been attributed to New York
Daily News cartoonist Bruce Stark, who in the 1970's first depicted
relievers for the New York Mets and Yankees as firemen coming in to
save their teams from danger.
- A player, often one of small stature, who is known for his energy,
extroversion, and team spirit -- sometimes perhaps more than for his
playing ability. "Morgan defied this mold by outworking everybody and
employing his moderate athletic gifts to become one of the best all-around
players of his era. He hit for power, he hit for average, he stole bases
and manufactured runs and he was one of the toughest, smartest defensive
second basemen the game has ever seen. He was a relentless fireplug,
respected by opposing players and hated by opposing fans."
- A hitter who likes to hit the first pitch in an at bat, especially
if the hitter often gets a hit on the first pitch.
- When a batter swings at a pitch that is inside and the ball hits the
bat close to his fists (hands). "Following the top half of the first,
the Bulls offense struck early when junior leftfielder Junior Carlin
fisted a pitch back up the middle on a 1-0 count".
five and dive
- A derogatory term referring to a starting pitcher who is unable to
go beyond 5 innings before wearing out. In the current era in which
managers are increasingly aware of the risk of injury to pitchers who
have high pitch counts, and in which relief pitching has become a critical
part of the game, starters achieve fewer and fewer complete games. Headline:
"Vasquez Disputes Five-and-Dive Label".
five o'clock hitter
- A hitter who hits really well during batting practice, but not so well during
games. These were formerly known as "ten o'clock hitters" or "two-o'clock
hitters" back when there were no night games.
- A position player who has great skill in all of the tools or basic
skills: hitting for average, hitting for power, base running and speed,
throwing, and fielding. See tools for how baseball scouts rate these
FL or F.L.
- Abbreviation for Federal League, a major league that existed from
1914 to 1915. This would be the last "third Major League"
to come into existence.
- To catch or knock down a line drive, as if flagging down a speeding
train. "Cody Ross, who singled and moved to second on a ground-out,
was stranded when Ramirez's scorched liner . . . was flagged down by
a diving Jones."
- A fireballer.
- A fly ball hit a short distance into the outfield. "Pudge hit a flare
just out of the shortstop's reach."
flashing the leather
- Making an outstanding or difficult defensive play. A player who regularly
makes difficult defensive plays may be described as a "leather flasher".
- A game played in the bullpen by relief pitchers. There are multiple rules and strategies that can be used. Also the act of softly tossing the ball to a fielder that is too close to make a full, hard throw to.
- A knuckleball. A pitch that may appear to the batter to float or bob
up and down on its way to the plate.
- A base hit that results from a weakly batted ball or one that takes an odd
- A knuckleball, a floater.
- A ball hit high in the air. See also pop fly, infield fly, and ground
- An out that results from an outfielder catching a fly ball.
- Used as a verb, a batter whose fly ball is caught in the outfield is said to "fly out." ""Rodriguez flied out to center fielder Suzuki."
- When a runner must advance to another base because the batter becomes
a runner and, as such, must advance to first base. In this situation,
the base the runner is being forced to needs to touched by the fielder
with the ball and is considered a "force out." A play when
a fly ball is caught and a fielder touches a base prior to the runner
tagging up is not a force play, but an appeal play.
- A type of split-finger fastball or splitter in which the fingers are
spread out as far as possible. The ball drops sharply and typically
out of the strike zone, maybe even into the dirt.
- Two straight lines drawn on the ground from home plate to the outfield
fence to indicate the boundary between fair territory and foul territory.
These are called the left-field foul line and the right-field foul line.
The foul poles on the outfield walls are vertical extensions of the
- Despite their names, both the foul lines and the foul poles are in fair
territory. Any fly ball that strikes the foul line (including the foul
pole) beyond first or third base is a fair ball (and in the case of
the foul pole, a home run).
- Note that while the foul lines in baseball are in fair territory, just like the side- and end-lines of a tennis court, in basketball or American football the sidelines are considered out of bounds. In other words, hitting the ball "on the line" is good for the offensive player in baseball and tennis, but stepping on the line is bad for the offensive player in basketball and American football. The situation is slightly different in international football (American "soccer"): the sideline and the goal line are inbounds, and the ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the side line (touch line) or the goal line, whether on the ground or in the air.
- Purposely batting a pitch foul with two strikes in order to keep the
at-bat going, in part to tire the pitcher and in part to get another,
different pitch that might be easier to hit. Luke Appling was said to
be the king of "fouling them off." Such a hitter might also
be said to be battling or working the pitcher.
- A pole located on each foul line on the outfield fence or wall. The
left-field foul pole and right-field foul pole are used by umpires to
determine whether a batted ball is a home run or a foul ball. The foul
pole is a vertical extension of the foul line. The term "foul pole"
is actually a misnomer, because the "foul pole" (like the
foul line) is in fair territory and a fly ball that hits the foul pole
is considered to be a fair ball (and a home run).
- A batted ball that is hit sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher's mitt and legally caught by the catcher. It is not a foul tip, as some announcers mistakenly use the term, if the ball is not caught by the catcher. In this case, it is simply a foul ball. It is also not considered a foul tip if it rebounds off something, like the ground, catchers mask, the batter, etc. after being struck by the bat, but before touching the catcher's mitt. A foul tip is considered in play, not a foul ball, and also counts as a strike, including the third strike (and is also considered a strikeout for the pitcher). The purpose of this rule is to prevent this type of play from being an automatic out for the batter (as a caught foul ball would be) and instead simply a strike, as if he swung and missed the ball. It is signaled by the umpire putting his right hand flat in the air and brushing his left hand against it (singling the ball hitting the bat) and then using his standard strike call.
- A home run. Never mind that the 4th "bag" is actually a
- An intentional walk.
- A standard fastball, which does not necessarily break though a good
one will have movement as well as velocity and location that makes it
difficult to hit. The batter sees the four parallel seams spin toward
him. A four-seamer. See two-seamer.
- As a noun, a frame is a half of an inning (either the top or the bottom).
Announcer: "Two hits, and two runs scored so far in this frame."
A bowling term, and suggested by the resemblance of an inning-by-inning
scoreboard to a bowling scoresheet.
- As a verb, to frame a pitch is to adjust the position of a catcher's mitt to mislead the umpire into thinking that the ball was caught within the strikezone.
- Slang for extra innings. The fans get to see extra innings "for
- A base on balls. "Free" because the batter doesn't have
to hit the ball to get on base. Also referred to as a "free ticket"
and an Annie Oakley.
freeze the hitter
- To throw a strike that is so unexpected or in such a location that
the batter doesn't swing at it. "As Cashman spoke, Pettitte fired
a strike on the corner, which froze the hitter." "But the
right-hander reached in her bag of tricks and threw a tantalizing changeup
that froze the hitter for the final out.
- A hard-hit line drive. Also a strong throw from the outfield.
- A count of 3 balls and 2 strikes; another strike will result in a
strikeout, while another ball will result in a walk.
- Three of a kind (3 balls), and two of a kind (2 strikes): a full
count. From the term used in poker. Sometimes called full boat.
Instead of holding up fingers indicating the count, the umpire may
hold up closed fists, implying "full".
- Capacity crowd; all seats filled in the stadium. From the theatrical term.
- A fly ball hit for fielders to practice catching. It is not part of the game,
but is accomplished by a batter tossing the ball a short distance up
in the air and then batting it himself.
- A lightweight bat with a long, skinny barrel used to hit fungoes.
It is not a legal or safe bat to use in a game or even in practice with
a live pitcher, because it is too light.
See all sports glossaries:
Published - February 2011
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