Wondering about "hot dog" = show off.

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Thu May 20 02:16:06 UTC 2004

     Most of the pieces of the "hot dog" puzzle have fallen into
place, and I'm trying to compile the material gathered over the
decades (yes, decades) into a book. David Shulman and Barry Popik
will be listed as co-authors.

    But one solution remains elusive: explaining how "hot dog"
(show-off) originated. A hot dog surfboard isn't shaped like a
sausage, so that the hot dogs (surfers) wouldn't seem to have derived
their name from the board.

    Meanwhile, the earliest attestations of "hot dog" in surfing are from 1961,
but the late Peter Tamony sent me a baseball attestation from 1959
(plus one from 1961):

1959: 'SHOW BOAT or HOT DOG.  in the old days this fellow was known
                as a county fair player, in short, an exhibitionist
who plays to the                grandstand deliberately.' (in Handy
Guide to "Fieldese." Frank Gibbons. Cleveland Press. Baseball digest,
(pocket size), May 1959, p. 80.

1961: 'Clowns are tolerated in baseball.  The hot dogs who make easy
                plays appear difficult are despised.' (San Francisco
News-Call Bulletin,
  Feb. 14, 1961, p. 44/4; article by Jimmy Cannon: '...Di Mag Could
Put Yanks on "Key"').

    My suspicion is that the show-off "hot dog" derives from the
interjection "hot dog!" (first attestation of this interjection:
1906).  Either the show-off  yelled "hot dog" upon doing something
supposedly remarkable. Or his showing-off was intended to stimulate
others to make this shout of approval.

    If anyone has any thoughts to share about "hot dog" (show-off),
I'd be grateful to receive them.  If they are used in the book, due
credit will of course be given.

Gerald Cohen

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