Sunday, April 13, 2008

Going yard

I have been away from baseball so long that my ballpark vocabulary has been thoroughly Rip Van Winkled. Yesterday the Cubs' website told me that Derrek Lee "went yard" in the previous game. Went yard? Never came across that before.

Googling brought up a Wikipedia entry on broadcasters' home run calls. "Go yard" simply means to hit a home run and, the entry said, has its origins in the Orioles' Camden Yards. That could be argued. What about "ball yard"? That's been around for a long time. Even I remember it.

"Went yard" has been employed long enough, too, for some newspaper scribes to complain that it has become a cliche, like "four-bagger" and "circuit clout."

That Wikipedia entry enchanted me, as so many of them do, even though it is suspiciously bereft of scholarly citations. Expectably there are a lot of oldies, such as "Hey-hey!" (Jack Brickhouse), "Holy cow!" (Harry Caray), "Kiss it goodbye!" (Lou Boudreau) and "It's gone! Holy Toledo!" (Milo Hamilton).

Home runs are nothing if not trilingual. There's lots of Spanish, unfortunately untranslated, such as that of Jorge Eduardo Sanchez on ESPN2: "Para atras, para atras... ¡y no va a regresar . . . UNA SALVAJADA DE BATAZO!" The meaning of Joe Angel's "Hasta la vista, pelota!" is at least easy to guess.

My favorite, from Rodger Brulotte of the Montreal Expos: "Bonsoir, elle est partie!" (Good night, she is gone!") It just sounds better in French.

Finally, at that site you can read a transcript of perhaps the most famous home run call in history, Russ Hodges' euphoric outburst for Bobby Thomson's feat in the 1951 National League playoffs with the Dodgers:

"Bobby Thomson . . . up there swingin'... He's had 2 out of 3, a single and a double, and Billy Cox is playing him right on the third base line. 1 out, last of the ninth . . . Branca pitches, Bobby Thomson takes a strike called on the inside corner. Bobby hitting at .292. He's had a single and a double and he drove in the Giants' first run with a long fly to center. Brooklyn leads it 4 to 2. Hartung, down the line at third, not taking any chances . . Lockman with not too big of a lead at second, but he'll be runnin' like the wind if Thomson hits one. Branca throws . . . [barely audible crack of the bat] . . . There's a long drive . . . It's gonna be, I believe . . . THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! [WAHOO! heard in background] . . . Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck, of the left field stands! [WAHOO! heard in background again] The Giants win the pennant, and they're goin' crazy! They're goin' crazy! Heeeey-oh! . . . [pause while crowd roars] . . . I don't believe it! I don't believe it! I do not believe it! Bobby Thomson . . . hit a line drive . . . into the lower deck . . . of the left field stands . . . and this blame place is goin' crazy! The Giants! Horace Stoneham has got a winner! The Giants won it, by a score of 5 to 4, and they're pickin' Bobby Thomson up, and carryin' him off the field!"

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