"out of left field" (Why "left"?)

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Wed Mar 28 02:49:26 UTC 2001

In a message dated 3/27/2001 8:36:24 PM, laurence.horn at YALE.EDU writes:

<< Very slight, and I'd wager not statistically significant.   Note that
(pace Ron) the center field distance is in each case significantly
farther from the plate than either left or right, yet we never get
"out in center field".  (The point being that if it were really just
a matter of how far out, and sinistral "weirdness" didn't come into
play, it WOULD be "out in/of center field".) >>

highbob at MINDSPRING.COM writes:

<<threeparks have longer left fields than right fields>>

I think we need to get into markedness theory here (though as a lefthander
myself, 'sinistral' is not to be discounted entirely): one would EXPECT
center field to "always" be farther than left field and equal to right in
distance from home plate. Therefore, the fact that left field is (or used to
be, back when the phrase was coined?) usually much farther than right--and
sometimes even farther than center--would make left seem much much farther

As gcohen at UMR.EDU wrote some time ago:

<<I specifically remember Yankee Stadium in the 1950s. It was about
460 feet to straightaway center field, and not too far over (in left
center) it was 452 feet. Ballplayers referred to that area as Death
Valley, and I remember seeing some tremendous drives caught routinely
by the outfielder in left center who had moved all the way back in
anticipation of just such a drive. Meanwhile, It was only some 360 feet (give
or take) to right center, while down the right field foul line it was 298 or
299 feet (so Babe Ruth could more easily hit hit homers). Down the left field
line it
was about 320 feet (give or take).>>

I have suffered sinistral discrimination for all my life, but I still don't
think that sinistrality is as important here as the psychological distance of
Death Valley from home plate.

I have been told by certain people at Duke that I should be focussing on
basketball right now--i hope this is not bad karma for the Michigan State
team, which i understand is #4 in the final 4.

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