hot dog--1952 "Yogi is a hot dog player"--Meaning is unclear

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Mon May 24 14:07:42 UTC 2004

    Last week Barry Popik sent ads-l several "hot dog" quotes
pertaining to sports, and I asked him for a fuller context for the
1952 item "Yogi [Berra] is a hot dog player."  He promptly sent it to
me (Thanx!), and I now reproduce it below my signoff.

   A problem is just what "hot dog" means here. If it's "showboat,
show-off," it would antedate by seven years the earliest "hot dog"
attestation I thus far know of with this meaning. (I'll check the
Dick Friendlich books that James Landau drew to ads-l attention last
week). Also, FWIW, in the 1950s I was keenly interested in baseball,
especially the NY Yankees and especially Mickey Mantle and Yogi
Berra, but I never heard "hot dog" in any sports sense during that

    In any case, "hot dog" (= show-off) would not fit the context of
the quote below. My guess is that the writer is saying that Yogi is a
very enthusiastic ("hot") devotee of dog racing ("dog player"). I.e.,
Yogi is not a "hot-dog player" but a "hot dog-player."

     But I'm open to other suggestions.  Might someone see something
here that I'm missing?

Gerald Cohen
P.S. Barry's other ads-l material on "hot dog" last week helped
clarify the meaning "second-rate; inferior" (boxer), by extension
"unknown; not yet famous" (golfer)--meanings which do not yet seem to
appear in the dictionaries.
But these meanings would not be appropriate to the 1952 context below.

At 10:42 PM -0400 5/23/04, Bapopik at wrote:
>Newport Daily News
>Newport, Rhode Island   Tuesday, November 18, 1952  646 k
>Pg. 12, col. 1 "The Sportlight" by Grantland Rice:
>    The first time I met Yogi was at the dog track at St. Pete one
>cold night around 1947.  I was with Stan Musial, Howie Pollet and
>Red Munger.  We all had on overcoats.  Yogi didn't.  I asked him how
>he was doing.  "I've lost my $4," he said.  "Nothing left."
>    We split a number or two and Yogi drew one that netted him 107.
>He was all for putting it on the next race.
>    Yogi is a hot dog player.  This next spring I have promised to
>spring him loose from Casey Stengel for a day at Sunshine Park.  You
>like to be with Yogi.  He is a completely natural human being, minus
>any restrictions.  I had promised to come to come to his wedding in
>St. Louis.  ...

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