[Ads-l] Antedating of "Grand Slam" (Tennis/Golf Sense) (UNCLASSIFIED)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 26 06:00:35 UTC 2016

On Mon, Jan 25, 2016 at 6:11 PM, Mullins, Bill CIV (US) wrote:
> And the baseball sense (OED has 27 May 1929). . . .
> _Boston Globe_ 20 May 1913 p 7 col 7 (ProQuest)
> "The defeat came later, but the crowd got its money's worth in that one
> grand slam. With the score 8 to 3 in Cincinnati's favor in the ninth, and
> the bases full, with none out, young Connelly knocked the ball over
> the right-field fence, making the score 8 to 7."
> {possibly this should be a bracketed cite?]

I came across this cite, among others, when I was researching my WSJ
column on "grand slam" last year. I'd say it might need to be
bracketed, since "grand slam" may have simply meant "home run" here
(even though it happened to be of the bases-loaded variety).

Here's the earliest connection to baseball I've found:

Cincinnati (OH) Post, July 1, 1909, p. 5, col. 2
Eighteen attractive buds from the flower of wealthy Wyoming (O.)
society will invade Springfield-av. baseball park Monday morning, July
5, at the Independence Day celebration of the village to play a match
game while the boys sit tamely in the bleachers...
Ordinarily, bridge whist, ball dresses and all that sort of thing
occupy the pretty heads of the two teams. Now they are poring over the
rules laid down in the Book of Spalding. By a process of comparison
they have learned that a home run is equal to a no-trump make. A home
run, with three men on bases, is fully as valuable as a "no-trump"
grand-slam on the rubber game.

And on the very same day:

Flint (MI) Journal, July 1, 1909, p  7, col. 3
'Twas Bowser who made a grand slam in the second contest which brought
across the first run.

Note that the example from Flint is in the sense of "powerful hit/home
run" while the Cincinnati example more specifically relates the bridge
"grand slam" to a bases-loaded home run (though the use is


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list