"hot dog" baseball player, 1954

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat May 29 20:48:22 UTC 2004

>        This is the earliest example I have thus far for baseball 'hot dog.'
>Its exact meaning isn't clear, although the term is certainly derogatory.
>The previous earliest one is 1959.

Sure looks a lot like the old "showoff" sense, exemplified in HDAS from

>The 1954 term may have been
>imported to baseball from boxing, where it referred to really
>bad/second-rate fighters
>(so bad that fans would leave for hot dogs and other refreshments).

Did it really refer to second-raters generally, or was that a nonce jocular
double-entendre? There doesn't seem to be a clear semantic continuity
between "one who is bad and therefore not interesting to watch" and "one
who is bad by virtue of being too showy".

I would speculate that the "hot dog" = "showoff athlete" of the 1950's and
later is descended from the ca. 1900 "showoff" sense. There is a hiatus in
the HDAS citations from 1903 to 1948 however.

HDAS shows the clearly related verb "hot dog" = "show off" from 1961, but
at N'archive I find a couple of examples of "hot dogging" from the 1930's
which could go far toward filling the gap.


_Nevada State Journal_ (Reno NV), 21 June 1939: p. 4, col. 5 ["Washington
Merry-Go-Round" column, Drew Pearson and Robert S. Allen]:

<<When the President returned from hot-dogging with royalty, he looked at
his desk, frowned at the "stacks of work" confronting him.>>


_Chronicle Telegram_ (Elyria OH), 26 July 1935: p. 10, col. 2 {"The
National Whirligig" column]:

[section title: <<SNOOTY.>>]

<<Nowadays the New Dealers are stepping out. Most publicized hot-dogging is
their weekending at the exclusive Jefferson Island Club in Chesapeake Bay.>>


I take "hot-dogging" to mean "swanking it" -- more or less "showing off".

-- Doug Wilson

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