thompsng at ELMER4.BOBST.NYU.EDU
Thu Jul 1 17:47:14 UTC 1999
Comments on "gopher ball"
Has this become a less-commonly used word than formerly? I listen
(on radio) to the Yankees broadcasts, the Baltimore Orioles when the
Yanks aren't playing and I can get the Orioles station; then the
Phillies, then the Mets, lacking any other option; and to the Sunday
night game of the week. When I travel I listen to whatever the
local term is, including minor league games. I don't recollect
hearing "gopher ball" lately.
I have never heard it in reference to the batter hitting a gopher
ball; always with reference to the pitcher "giving up a gopher ball"
or "serving up too many gopher balls".
As I recall, Wentworth & Flexner misdefined the term; they defined
it as a very hard hit ball that travels low to the ground.
Correctly, such a hit is called a worm-burner, at least by Phil
I've always assumed that the term is a joke on "go-fer": possibly in
the sense of "go far", but more likely in the same sense as the
office "gopher" who's sent to go fer coffee, office supplies or other
such errands. The outfielders or groundskeepers have to go for the
ball to retrieve it. The term may well have arisen in amateur
or minor league baseball in playing fields where there are no seats
beyond the outfield and home run balls aren't souveniers but are
retrieved and put back into play.
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