in his wheelhouse

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jun 11 14:45:58 UTC 2001

>    This is getting interesting. Alice Faber points out that the NY
>Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958 or 1959. This would explain why
>the manager of the San Francisco Giants, Bill Rigney, was not earlier
>quoted in the S.F. newspaper using the expression.
>    However, the absence of the major league team from San Francisco
>did not preclude lively newspaper articles on baseball. The Pacific
>Coast League (1903-1988) was still very much in existence, and
>sportswriters being who they are, I suppose they covered the games
>with considerable interest. (They certainly did so in 1913, the year
>I'm presently concentrating on.)
>    So we're back to Bill Rigney. Maybe Don Sparlin is correct after
>all in supposing that whoever introduced "in his wheelhouse" to
>baseball lingo was from a river town like St. Louis or Cincinnati. I
>think it's time for me to check with SABR (Society for American
>Baseball Research) and see what Bill Rigney's background is.
>---Gerald Cohen
As I mentioned earlier today, Rigs was from California (Alameda, near
Oakland and Berkeley, to be exact), and there are no steamboats in
the East Bay.  He spent his entire major league playing career (eight
years) at the Polo Grounds (Manhattan), on the banks of the Harlem
River.  No steamboats tooling up and down the Harlem (or Hudson, or
East) Rivers that I can recall (I went to school a couple of blocks
from the Polo Grounds, and I'm sure I would have noticed.  Rigs
managed in New York, San Francisco, and (in the 1960's) Southern
California and Minnesota, but the latter two after the cite in
question.  It may be that he spent some time in the minors near the
Mississippi, Missouri, or Ohio, but I think it's more likely that
someone else came up with the term "in [someone's] wheelhouse", or
alternatively that it doesn't derive from steamboats.


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