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Baseball Terms Glossary
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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.

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ice cream cone

Colorful term used to describe the appearance of a baseball caught in the tip of the webbing of a glove. The partially protruding white ball contrasted with the tan-colored glove resembles a large waffle cone. Also occasionally referred to as a "snow cone."

immaculate inning

A half-inning in which the pitcher strikes out all three batters he faces on exactly nine pitches; that is, throwing nothing but strikes.

in the batter's eyes

A high fastball, usually at or near the batter's eye level. Above the strike zone, so a ball, and hard to hit, but also hard to lay off.

Infield fly rule

The umpire calls the batter out when (a) there are less than two outs in the inning, and (b) the batter hits a fly ball that can be caught with ordinary effort by an infielder in fair territory, and (c) there are runners on first and second or the bases are loaded.
The batter is automatically called out in this situation whether or not a fielder attempts to catch the fly ball, but assuming that the ball stays in fair territory. The rule states that the umpire is supposed to announce, "Infield fly, if fair". If the ball will be almost certainly fair, the umpire will likely yell, "Infield fly, batter's out!" or just "Batter's out!"
This rule is intended to prevent the fielder from intentionally dropping the ball and getting force outs on the runners on base. The rule is a little mystifying to casual fans of the game, but it has been a fundamental rule since 1895, allegedly to prevent the notoriously tricky Baltimore Orioles from intentionally dropping the ball.


First baseman, second baseman and third baseman, plus the shortstop, so called because they are positioned on the infield dirt. The pitcher and catcher are typically not considered infielders, but instead as the battery. However, for purposes of implementing the Infield Fly Rule, the catcher, pitcher, and any player stationed in the infield when the pitch is delivered are included as infielders.

inherited runner

If a relief pitcher enters a game with runners already on base, he inherits runners. If those inherited runners later score, the runs are attributed to the previous pitcher or pitchers for purposes of calculating statistics such as earned runs allowed or earned run average.


An inning consists of two halves. In each half, one team bats until three outs are made. A full inning consists of six outs, three for each team; and a regulation game consists of nine innings. The first half-inning is called the top half of the inning; the second half-inning, the bottom half. The break between the top and bottom halves is called the middle of the inning. The visiting team is on offense during the top half of the inning, the home team is on offense during the bottom half. Sometimes the bottom half is also referred to as the home half.

inside baseball

The inside baseball is an offensive strategy that focuses on teamwork and good execution. It usually centers on tactics that keep the ball in the infield: walks, base hits, bunts, and stolen bases. This was the primary offensive strategy during the Dead Ball Era. Inside baseball is also a common metaphor in American politics to describe background machinations. The equivalent modern term is small ball.

inside-the-park home run

A play where a hitter scores a home run without hitting the ball out of play.

insurance run

A run that is scored in the late innings when the leading team is only ahead by one or two, providing a margin of safety against a rally.

intentional pass

Same as intentional walk.

intentional walk

A walk given by the pitcher throwing (normally) four straight balls well outside of the strike zone (though occasionally a pitcher will start an at-bat by pitching around the hitter, and if he gets into a hitter's count he will "give in" and intentionally walk the hitter. The catcher must stand in the catcher's box and will usually extend a hand away from the batter as an obvious sign. (Although the pitcher's "intention" is to walk the batter, if he does not take care to pitch far enough outside, the batter may still be able to hit the ball safely, which would be rare but legal.) Often an "intentional walk" will occur with first base open since then the walk doesn't dramatically benefit the offense, and opens the possibility of a double play. An "intentional walk" is seen as both a compliment to the batter being walked, and an insult to the batter on deck, who is considered to be an easy out. See also pitch around.


Interference is an infraction where a person illegally changes the course of play from what is expected. Interference might be committed by players on the offense, players not currently in the game, catchers, umpires, or fans; each type of interference is covered differently by the rules. See the Wikipedia article on interference for details on the varieties of interference calls.

Internet baseball awards

While Major League Baseball calls on the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWA) to name the most valuable player, rookie of the year, and Cy Young Award winner each year, since 1997 Baseball Prospectus has conducted an on-line poll to make Internet Baseball Awards in those categories as well as manager of the year.


A term used to describe a batting average below .200. A player with a batting average of .195 is said to be on I-95, a reference to the numbering on the Interstate Highway System. See also the Mendoza Line.

in the books

The game is over. "This game's in the books [the records]."

in the hole

  • The spaces between the first baseman and second baseman and between the shortstop and the third baseman, one of the usual places where a ground ball must go for a hit. Infielders try to field balls hit into the hole. "Ozzie went deep in the hole to get that one" does not mean that Ozzie went under ground to get the ball. Despite Ozzie's best efforts, the ball may "find a hole" through the infield and into the outfield. See also up the middle and down the line.
  • Due up to bat after the on-deck batter. Probably derived from boating, where it was originally "in the hold," the place prior to being "on deck."
  • Used to describe an unfavorable count. A pitcher would be "in the hole" 3-0 and a batter would be "in the hole" 0-2.

in the (his) kitchen

Another term used to describe pitching in on the hitter's hands.

in play

  • A game is in play when the umpire declares "play ball" at the beginning of the game or after a time-out.
  • Any batted ball is "in play" until either the play ends, the umpire calls the ball foul, or there is fan interference or some other event that leads to a dead ball. A ball hit into foul territory but in the air is in play in that a fielder may attempt to catch the ball for an out and a runner may attempt to advance after such a catch, but if it then falls to the ground or hits the fence in foul territory it would then be called foul and no longer be in play.
  • In sabermetrics, a special definition of "ball in play" is used to calculate a "batting average on balls in play" (BABIP), which excludes home runs even though they are fair balls.
  • Also see play.

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Published - February 2011

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