Effectively Wild Launch Day & Other Weird Baseball Stuff

Today, my baseball horror novella Effectively Wild launches in print and e-book. Be a friend, and head on over to Amazon or your online book retailer of choice and grab a copy.

Okay, now let’s have a little fun. While you don’t need to be a baseball aficionado to enjoy Effectively Wild, the novella is sprinkled with the colorful jargon that pervades the sport. It’s all very clear through context, but I thought it would be fun to give folks a little baseball jargon glossary. Some of these terms are in the book, but most of them are just a collection of fun weird words and phrases baseball has developed over 150 years.

Home Run

  • Homer – Just a shortening of home run.
  • Dinger – Like many baseball terms, the origin of this one is lost to history.
  • Tater – The ball used to be referred to as “the potato”, though not as much anymore, so tater or long tater is, uh, a home run. I don’t understand why it isn’t “mashed potato.” :).
  • Big fly – Pretty obvious. A home run is almost always a fly ball, and it’s, obviously, the biggest fly ball.
  • Oppo taco – This is when a batter hits a home run to the opposite field instead of his “pull” side. So a left-hand hitter would hit it to left, and right hand hitter to right. It’s usually harder to hit a home run to the opposite field, so the oppo taco is considered a more impressive feat.


  • Effectively Wild – Kind of an important one. When a pitcher is effectively wild, he’s throwing more balls than strikes, but his “stuff” is still good enough that batters can’t do anything with it. It still has excellent velocity or movement, even when it’s outside the strike zone. The pitcher is unpredictable, and the batter can’t get comfortable or guess what might be coming. There’s also a considerably higher chance of a batter getting hit by a pitch.
  • Uncle Charlie – A curve ball, generally one thrown by a pitcher who has a particularly good one. Origin unknown.
  • Yellow Hammer – A curve ball that generally drops straight down, or 12 to 6. Origin unknown.
  • High and Tight – When a pitcher throws a fast ball inside and high to a batter to move him off the plate. The intent is not to hit the batter but to set up an outside pitch.
  • Brush Back – Same as above, but generally done with more, uh, pointed intent.
  • Buzzing the Tower – Yeah, there are a lot of terms for pitchers throwing at or near batters. This is a pitch that’s thrown head-high (kind of a no-no) that might set the batter down on his ass. This can lead to another baseball term – charging the mound. 🙂
  • Cutter – Generally a two-seam fastball that moves horizontally away from a batter or, often, in so that contact results in a weak grounder and a broken bat.
  • Sinker – A fastball with considerable late drop that cause the batter to swing over it or hit the top of the ball and ground out.
  • Punch Out – When a pitcher strikes out a batter.
  • K/Backward K – This is a term for a strikeout. A regular K denotes a strikeout where the batter swung and missed, The backward K denotes a strikeout where the batter took a called third strike.
  • Battery – The duo made up of the pitcher and the catcher.

Other Hits

  • Line Drive – As opposed to a fly ball which is hit at a steeper angle, line drives have a flatter trajectory and are some of the hardest hit balls in the game.
  • Frozen Rope – A line drive that is hit particularity hard.
  • Worm Burner – A hard-hit ground ball that theoretically could prove lethal to any worms in its path. 🙂
  • Bloop – A softly hit fly ball that manages to drop over the infield or between outfielders for a hit. Detested by pitchers because they generally mean the batter was fooled or made bad contact and then got lucky. But, hey, that’s baseball.
  • Can of Corn – A medium-depth fly ball that hangs up in the air long enough for the outfielder to settle under it and make an easy catch. Thought to have originated from a time when cans of food were kept on high shelves at markets and knocked off with a stick for the the stock person to catch and give to the customer.
  • Gapper – A hard hit fly ball that lands between the outfielders and rolls to the wall. The batter winds up with at least a double.


  • Speed Never Slumps – Many things in baseball go through ups and downs. A batter or pitcher is a tick off and goes on an extended streak of subpar play. This is called a slump. A fast player, one who steals bases, never loses that ability in a “slump.”
  • The Tools of Ignorance – The catcher’s gear. Called this because no one on the field takes more physical punishment than the catcher, so, the idea is that in order to be a catcher, you have to be a little unhinged,
  • Cup of Coffee – When a minor league player gets called up the majors for a short stint, usually to cover for an injured player or make a spot start and is then sent back to the minors. The idea being the player is only in the big leagues long enough to have a cup of coffee.
  • Bonus Baby – A player who is drafted high in the MLB draft and given a significant (seven figure) signing bonus by the team. When the player reports to the minor leagues, he is often called a bonus baby. The term is slightly derogatory and equivalent to “silver spoon.”

Well, that’s just scratching the surface of the staggering amount of baseball slang and jargon. I hope you found it interesting, and I hope you employ this new-found knowledge when you grab a copy of Effectively Wild in print or e-book. 🙂


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