[Ads-l] Antedating of golf term "mulligan" to 1919--in cricket!!

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Mon Jun 20 16:23:56 UTC 2016

I would occasionally see a cricket game in progress when I would walk about
Brooklyn.  However, I have never watched more than maybe 10 minutes of a
game at a time. But  I'm not the sort of guy who won't share his opinion
just because he knows nothing about the topic, so here goes.

I think we could correctly rewrite this quotation as He may take a hack at
it and knock it over the fence.

Both baseball and cricket have strike zones, but in cricket the strike zone
is tangible, a gizmo of three slender vertical sticks 2 or 3 feet high with
a couple of tiddly little pieces of wood perched on top of them (the
wicket).  If a cricket batter lets a ball go past him and it brushes this
wicket even slightly, the little pieces of wood will be knocked off.  No
umpire's judgement or habitual or occasional "wide strike zone" is
involved.  In cricket, one strike is out.
There is no foul territory in cricket, a ball hit in any direction can be
in play, but the batter isn't obliged to run when he hits the ball, if he
thinks he will be thrown out.  So cricket batters keep busy "protecting the
plate' (in baseball terms), or "spoiling good pitches".  Nothing bad can
happen, unless their hit is caught on the fly.
The batter in this quotation seems to be a "bad-ball hitter" of the school
of Yogi Berra or Vladimir Guerrero -- whose strike zones were "between
their shoes and the bill of their cap".  Like them, when he swings at a
ball that's off the wicket, he's not trying to hit one where they ain't,
he's trying for a home run -- which, I believe, is worth 6 runs.

So, I believe that a mulligan in golf is a do-over, which can't be the
sense here.  Regardless of how much I may misunderstand cricket,


On Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 8:10 PM, <sclements at neo.rr.com> wrote:

> Using GenealogyBank, a full page article entitled "Why Our Baseball Is
> Better Than British Cricket."
> _The Colorado Springs Gazette_ 19 April 1919, 12/3.
> "If it is a bad ball, "off the wicket," he may take a "mulligan" at it and
> knock it over the fence, "out of bounds" they call it."
> Now, I'm not at all a cricket person so, if I've misinterpreted this,
> please let me know.
> Sam Clements
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..

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

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