gopher ball

Larry Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jul 1 15:43:54 UTC 1999

>Is anyone familiar with the term "gopher ball" as slang for a home run
>in baseball?
>The sportswriter who used it in a story told me it's not an uncommon
>term and is used by TV announcers. The sports editor was also familiar
>with it.
>I'm wondering what the operative metaphor might be. I checked the ADS
>archives but couldn't find anything on it.
It's extremely not uncommon, and my perception is that it's used especially
frequently when the home run is presented from the pitcher's perspective:
a pitcher would more likely be castigated for giving up too many gopher
balls (or being plagued by the gopher ball) than a hitter would be
celebrated for hitting them.  As for the origin, without checking any of
the standard references (especially Tamony), I'd hesitate between two
natural interpretations:
(1) some connection with the animal, but that would seem more appropriate
for a ball one drives into the ground (often a Baltimore chop) rather than
a dinger, round-tripper, four-bagger, circuit clout, etc.
(2) a pun on go-fer:  the home run is a ball a fan will go for (to retrieve
it as a souvenir).  Just a guess.  (After pastrami < pastirmi/bastirmi, I'm
on a roll, with mustard.)


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