second-guesser (1914), second-guessing (1921)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Wed Dec 15 04:59:37 UTC 2004

* second-guesser (OED2: 1937)

(Oshkosh,  Wisconsin) Daily Northwestern, January 3, 1914, p. 11
Remember, this is merely a second guess and not a criticism of Manager
McGraw's leadership oi the Giants. The baseball world is full of second
guessers, a lot of whom believe they know more about the game than any
manager or player living.

Atlanta Constitution, January 2, 1916, p. 2B
(heading) Second Guessers Busy, But Manager Uses Judgment.
Playing it over with the second guess is a favorite stunt in baseball. ...
After the first game of the world's series, the second guessers had
Manager Bill Carrigan as a topic for discussion. ...
(heading) Second Guessers Would Remove Shore, But Carrigan Stands Pat.
At this point in the game, those with the second guess insisted that Shore
should have been removed. ...
The breaks were against him, two fluky runs were scored, and the second
guessers had something to talk about.

* second-guessing, vbl. n. (OED2: 1946)

Appleton (Wisconsin) Post Crescent, July 26, 1921, p. 8
But the ring is one place where second guessing doesn't bring home the
well-known bacon.

Syracuse (NY) Herald, June 9, 1922, p. 24
J.D.R. is right in his statement about second guessing but he forgets that
second guessing is the natural born right of the baseball fan.

New York Times, Oct 13, 1923, p. 11
Many second-guessing critics criticized Miller for this alleged oversight,
but it is questionable if it would have been wise to make the greatest
hitter in the game bunt when both teams were scoreless and it was only the
fourth inning.

Syracuse (NY) Herald, Nov 20, 1924, p. 22
(heading) Rockne Warns College Heads to Spurn Talk of Second Guess Men.
But the other pest, the second-guesser, is not funny. ... Most of the
second guessing is loose talk, and is to be taken as such.

* second-guess, v. (OED2: 1941)

Los Angeles Times, Aug 6, 1925, p. A6
Club Coach Has Hard Job, You Tell 'Em.
He is "second guessed" by the manager during a ball game.

(Elyria,  Ohio) Chronicle Telegram, Oct 2, 1926, p. 9
The boys may yet have to second-guess this one.

Syracuse (NY) Herald, May 6, 1928, p. 10
(heading) "B.B." Bradley Second Guessed Himself Twice.

Decatur (Illinois) Daily Review, Sep 22, 1930, p. 4
"I want to say right now that I have never second-guessed on any Cub
player, nor have I ever had a thought of so doing," Hornsby said.

I'm not so sure about the etymology given for "second-guesser":

[f. SECOND a. + GUESSER, poss. in slang sense ‘umpire (in baseball)’, the
orig. meaning being ‘one who acts as if he is a second umpire’: cf. also

Despite the fact that many of the early cites relate to baseball, none of
them  suggest a connection to "guesser"="umpire".  More likely it grew out
of the preexisting phrase "(the) second guess", which appeared in such set
expressions as "(the) second guess is (the) best" (equivalent to
"hindsight is 20/20")...

Puck, Aug 13, 1902, p. 7
That prelude to a presidential campaign, the overture of denial, is now to
be distinctly heard. The list of gentlemen, who "politely but firmly
decline  nomination," is gradually growing. The era of the second guess
has yet to arrive.

New York Times, Oct 12, 1912, p. 2
Not criticising the leaders, because second guess always is best, but in
both cases it looked as if a bunt was the play.

Syracuse (NY) Herald, Oct 9, 1913, p. 16
>From now on we shall hear the Philadelphia custodians of the second guess
saying Connie Mack pulled a boneheaded play in letting Plank bat.

Lincoln (Nebraska) Daily News, Aug 20, 1915, p. 8
The second guess is the best, but the squeeze bunt is one bird of a play
and it certainly appealed to the disappointed bugs as the Tigers' one best
bet in that tenth-inning crisis.

New York Times, Jul 19, 1916, p. 10
However, second guesses are always right.

-- Ben Zimmer

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