Antedating of "Perfect Game"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue May 25 15:10:02 UTC 2010

At 2:26 PM +0000 5/25/10, ronbutters at wrote:
>What Ben suggests is not "careful," it is merely redundant.

How so?  Which part of "his bid for a perfect game was spoiled
by/when..." is redundant?  Granted, it's unlikely that this phrasing
would be used for, say, a walk in the top of the third or a double in
the fourth--but that has to do with when it makes sense to call it a
bid, not with redundancy.

My problem with the analogy between the use of "perfect game" in the
early 20th c. cites and that of, say, "shutout" today, is that while
one could naturally say "his bid for a ___ was spoiled when he gave
up a homer in the 8th" in either case, the locution "he pitched a
____ with the exception of a homer in the 8th" seems odd today.  But
it was evidently a standard locution in the past--for "perfect game",
not necessarily for "shutout", indicating that the meaning of
"perfect game" has indeed changed.


>------Original Message------
>From: Benjamin Zimmer
>Sender: ADS-L
>To: ADS-L
>ReplyTo: ADS-L
>Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Antedating of "Perfect Game"
>Sent: May 25, 2010 10:02 AM
>On Tue, May 25, 2010 at 9:50 AM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at> wrote:
>>  It's not so odd, when one considers that it is common to say things like
>>  "his perfect game was spoiled when he let up a walk in the 8th inning."
>I think careful commentators would say something like "his bid for a
>perfect game was spoiled..." For a would-be no-hitter there's the
>succinct "no-hit bid."

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