Pros from Dover

Donald M Lance lancedm at MISSOURI.EDU
Tue Jul 23 21:44:10 UTC 2002

My comment on convenient assonance still stands.  Would "pro from
Springfield" have worked as well?  There are more Springfields than Dovers.
(To keep a language element in the discussion.)


on 7/23/02 3:39 PM, Douglas G. Wilson at douglas at NB.NET wrote:

> Here's the origin of the expression, I believe:
> Richard Hooker, "M*A*S*H", 1968: Ch. 8: pp. 71-2:
> <<In college Hawkeye's obligation to various scholarships involved
> attention to other games, but during medical school, his internship and his
> residency he had played golf as often as possible. Joining a club had been
> out of the question, and even payment of green fees was economically
> unsound. Therefore he developed a technique which frequently allowed him
> the privilege of playing some public and a number of unostentatious private
> courses. He would walk confidently into a pro shop, smile, comment upon the
> nice condition of the course, explain that he was just passing through and
> that he was Joe, Dave or Jack Somebody, the pro from Dover. This resulted,
> about eight times out of ten, in an invitation to play for free. If forced
> into conversation, he became the pro from Dover, New Hampshire,
> Massachusetts, New Jersey, England, Ohio, Delaware, Tennessee, or
> Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, whichever seemed safest.>>
> So that's why "Dover": it's a place-name which is very ambiguous.
> A little later in the book, Hawkeye and Trapper John are rousted from their
> golf in Korea and sent to do thoracic surgery in Japan; they arrive
> unshaven, dressed (apparently) in outlandish borrowed Korean clothing, and
> toting golf clubs; they make a number of silly wisecracks, and request the
> patient's X-ray films (p. 77):
> <<"All right," Trapper said. "Somebody trot out the latest pictures of this
> kid with the shell fragment in his chest."
> No one moved.
> "Snap it up!" yelled Hawkeye. "We're the pros from Dover, and the last
> pictures we saw must be forty-eight hours old by now.">>
> A little later (p. 78), confronted by a fierce nurse:
> <<"Don't get mad, ma'am," Hawkeye said. "All we want is our starting time."
> "Get out!" she screamed.
> "Look, mother," Trapper said. "I'm the pro from Dover. Me and my
> greenskeeper want to crack that kid's chest and get out to the course. ....">>
> So what the expression SHOULD mean is "frivolous grotesque-looking visitors
> with doubtful credentials", but I suppose this concept is implicit whenever
> outside experts are called in. Apparently "pros from Dover" is used
> nowadays to mean simply "outside experts" or sometimes even simply "experts".
> -- Doug Wilson

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