And in (additional) honor of the Giants' World Series win...

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 3 21:15:59 UTC 2010

1927 _Charleroi [Pa.] Mail_ (June 23) 7: The Phillies went into a deadlock
on Cy's Chinese homer only to see the Buccos hammer over four runs a little

1943 _Burlington [N.C.] Daily Times-News_  (Sept. 10) 8: No fewer than 21[?]
National League players hit their first home runs at the Polo
Grounds...That's why they call them Chinese home runs...The Giants can't win
even in a Chinese park.  [Suspension points in original.]

1948 _Lowell [Mass.] Sun_ (Oct. 2) 5: Ballplayers played ball in those days.
Now they pop a Chinese home run into an overhanging balcony and the crowd
thinks it's wonderful.

1951 _Altoona Mirror_ (Oct. 6) 1: As the scene shifted from the massive
Yankee stadium to the Polo grounds - scene of the "Chinese" home run, [sic]
the fans seemed to be only warming up to what  so far has been the most
anti-climatic [sic] world series [sic] ever played.


On Wed, Nov 3, 2010 at 4:47 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at>wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      And in (additional) honor of the Giants' World Series win...
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The last time the Giants won the Series it was 1954, when they were
> playing in the Polo Grounds a few blocks from where I lived in upper
> Manhattan.  Notwithstanding this proximity, I was--as a rabid fan of
> the  Brooklyn Dodgers--not pleased with the Giants' success and was
> rooting in vain for the Cleveland Indians in that Series.  The
> turning point of that Series may well have been the game-saving catch
> in Game 1 of the deep drive by the Indians' Vic Wertz by Willie Mays,
> possibly the most celebrated defensive play in the history of
> baseball.  But what I remember equally well is the game-winning
> pinch-hit home run hit by Dusty Rhodes in the 10th inning of the game
> Game 1 following the famous catch (a.k.a. "The Catch")
> Curiously to me, the only listing for "Chinese home run" in
> Urbandictionary is the following, which I'm totally unfamiliar with:
> When a batter fouls a ball back behind the screen or net into the stands.
> "Johnson remains at the plate after hitting a Chinese Home Run on a 2-2
> count."
> Other web entries do provide the relevant sense, and indeed Dickson's
> "New Baseball Dictionary" (p. 114) not only includes this sense but
> indexes this very same epochal event as the first use of the phrase,
> although I seem to recall (dimly, since I was 9 years old at the
> time) that the announcers seemed to presuppose watchers would be
> familiar with the term.  The reference seems either exclusive to or
> largely limited to use to describe home runs to the very short
> right-field corner, and to signal the "cheapness" of the home run,
> which Dickson notes was also described, probably by Cleveland fans,
> as "a 260-foot pop fly.  So what I was wondering if the etymology is
> just from the stereotype assumption of Chinese cheap labor > (Chinese
> = cheap) > (cheap home run = Chinese home run) or if there's some
> other motivation.  It's also interesting that the first use, both in
> Dickson and some other sites, is attributed to our friend T. A.
> ("TAD") Dorgan, who is of course on some of these sites still
> identified as the originator of "hot dog".  I'm wondering whether the
> attribution is more reliable in the case of "Chinese home run/homer"
> than in the case of the dubious dachshund.
> LH
> (P.S.  While the term is predictably no longer in use, the Dickson
> entry reminds me that the Chinese home run was successfully
> transported from the Polo Grounds to the L. A. Coliseum, where the
> Dodgers played in the late 1950s before their own Chavez Ravine
> ballpark was built; the Coliseum was, and is, a football stadium
> whose temporary conversion to baseball made cheap home runs possible,
> only to left rather than right field.  Wally Moon, a journeyman
> left-handed-hitting outfielder then playing for the Dodgers, made a
> living by poking balls into those nearby stands (the opposite field
> for him) that became known as "Moon Shots"--one of those lexical
> items that was useful for a while, and then predictably died.  The
> same is evidently true of "Chinese home run", but for a different
> reason.
> At 6:53 AM -0700 11/3/10, geoffrey nunberg wrote:
> >"He [Renteria] told Andres [Torres] he was going to hit one and he
> >did it," outfielder Aaron Rowand said. "He Babe Ruth-ed it, I guess."
> >
> >
> >
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