Throwback Thursday: Rounding The Bases, And How Life Imitates Baseball

Oh, so provocative.... Photo via Flickr user LifeSupercharger

Sometimes, when two people love each other very much, they get together for the night. Or for the afternoon. And they make sweet, sweet, Baseball.

There was a time, maybe not so long ago, or maybe a very, very long time ago, when your greatest fears were realized. An adult sat you down, and gave you:

The Talk.

It was terrifying. It was relieving. It was awakening. And it was around that time, when your teammates also grew into an invested interest of… Baseball.

Maybe you first started to daydream about players on the other team, or perhaps took a new interest in members of your own team. Did you consider a role as a switch-hitter? No matter what way you swung it, whether you pitched or caught every ankle-biter picking daisies in the outfield, each sassy whippersnapper in the locker room, and even the dear little’uns in the dugout, were talking about it.

Rounding The Bases: Making it to Second. Stealing Third. Striking Out.

You knew what this meant when you heard people shouting at the radio broadcast. Baseball.

You knew what this meant when you heard a player talking about their game in the showers. Or calling out someone who was a rookie. Baseball!

You heard about so-and-so going to first base with so-and-so. Or what’s-their-name and that-one-kid going all the way. With winks, with smiles, you knew what all of this meant. Simpler times.

World War II was over. The Fifties were in full swing. Spring was in the air, and you know what they say about springtime? Well, spring is the beginning of Baseball season. All of the baby animals come wobbling out to make their first plate appearances, because a lot, and I mean A LOT of Baseball happens in the springtime. Baseball on the couch in the mid-century-modern living room. Baseball in the back seat of a ’57 Chevrolet. Making Baseball in a grassy field with a warm breeze.

So back to the Fifties. From what I recall of my time spent in the Fifties hanging out with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, with Joe Di and Marilyn, the Fifties were when folks started doing all that dangerous hand-jiving business, and what’s more, the teenagers in the Fifties started really getting heavy into Baseball, and specifically, talking about Baseball. And using Baseball to talk about Baseball.

That old high school anthem-of-the-morning-after-those-spring-and-summer-nights we used to sing back in the Fifties, with the lyrics:

“Oh well-a well-a well-a huh/
Tell me more, tell me more/
Did you get very far/
Tell me more, tell me more/
Like, does he have a car/”

…Could just have easily been:

“Tell me more, tell me more/
Did you get to first base/
Tell me more, tell me more/
Did you get to second base/”

So I’m no Hammerstein… But do you catch my pitch?

Fast-forward 20-something years. 1977. Baseball in New York City. Pop culture started to really catch on to all the Baseball shenanigans, bringing us to a heavy-hitter in the sport, Phil Rizzuto, and his unlikely companion, rock musician and balladeer Meat Loaf.

Phil Rizzuto, the Hall-of-Famer and 40-year color commentator of the New York Yankees, well-known for his signature shouts of “Holy Cow!” The Scooter made a lasting contribution to our understanding of Baseball- that is forever preserved in vinyl- whether he knew what that devil Meat Loaf was up to, or not.

Paradise By The Dashboard Light,” a track from Meat Loaf’s 1977 album Bat Out Of Hell, describes a night between two teenage lovers in the lyrics:

“Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night/
I can see paradise by the dashboard light/
You got to do what you can and let Mother Nature do the rest/
Ain’t no doubt about it/
We were doubly blessed/
‘Cause we were barely seventeen/
And we were barely dressed.”

Later in the song is a recording by Rizzuto that provides, well, very colorful commentary, on the scene between the two young Baseball-loving lovers. Note that Rizzuto’s calls are heavy on the side of notorious baseball metaphors:

“Turning it on now, he’s not letting up at all, he’s gonna try for second… He’s gonna slide in head first, here he comes… safe at second base!… He’s taking a pretty big lead out there, almost daring him to try and pick him off… bunted down the third base line, the suicide squeeze is on! Here he comes… it’s gonna be close!… Holy cow! I think he’s gonna make it!”

And since ’77, popular culture in America has fully embraced using Baseball to talk about, well… life, the universe, and everything. (My heart just skipped a beat thinking about the significance of 42). Baseball has been used to explain more than just Baseball.

Remember, when Oscar Wilde said:

“Life imitates Baseball far more than Baseball imitates Life.”

…or something like that.

You see folks, and there’s even more (from other places than) where that came from!

If you’re feeling like a Rookie, and all this Baseball-y jab has you confused, you should start by batting with a tee, and check out this Q&A on Go Ask Alice that covers all the bases. I mean all the basics: “Definitions of bases- and we’re not talking baseball.”

The Baseball Euphemism All-Stars, they should have called it! Oh well. Here is the ballot: David Letterman’s Top Ten Baseball Euphemisms for Sex.

Or, should you be a Bambi who enjoys going the other way, and webcomics, XKCD’s “The ‘Base’ Metaphor Explained” is scrupulously well-thought-out (and highly geeky) map of a baseball diamond featuring the corresponding plays, including here-to-fore grey areas such as “Downloading Star Trek Fanfiction,” “Hands Down The Pants,” and “Passing Notes.”

For the veteran ballplayer, check out a more modernized version of the baseball idiom lineup by DJ Gallo of SportsPickle (speaking of nasty visuals, ew) Other Baseball Sex Terms for terms beyond rounding the bases, and into more dangerous, complex matters like “Working the Count,” “Bases on Balls,” and “Defensive Indifference.”

If you decide you want to do your Master’s Thesis on Baseball and Sexuality, you should take the time to read Thomas L. Altherr’s “Eros at the Bat: American Baseball and Sexuality in Historical Context,” taken from Alvin L. Hall’s book The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, 1998. The article is heavy on the side of Bull Durham, Mesopotamian fertility rituals, self-control, and The Babe’s babes.

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I asked Twitter users and other Aerys writers to come up with their most provocative and amusing suggestive sexual baseball euphemisms… I was surprised by the variety you all came up with. Proceed with caution, I’ve compiled the best, so you can use your imagination…

@Gerbalaya:

“I think I’ve got a “quality start” in me tonight.”

“She was a ‘walk off piece’”

@CornerInfielder:

“Hay gurl, wanna watch some UZRPORN?” “You wanna come over and FIP my VORP tonight?”

@CallumHughson:

“Lift and separate”

@monbud:

“Laying down the bunt; sweet spot; back end of the pen; stretching the zone; middle relief; Friendly Confines.”

@BlueJaysChirps:

“worm burner?”

@BKibbs:

“Hit from both sides of the plate; backdoor slider;  Bang-bang play”

@YankeeClipper09:

“Choking up on the bat. Many connotations there!”

@FlightsimGeek:

“Squeeze play? Anything else that I can think of seems too obvious & vulgar.”

@talkendo:

“fires it in there for a strike”

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Do you have a favorite baseball tradition? Is there a particular ghost of baseball past you would like to revisit? Ever wonder why they do what they do, and when they started doing it? If you have a suggestion, question, or submission for Throwback Thursday, contact Elise by tweeting @Elise_Myers.

One thought on “Throwback Thursday: Rounding The Bases, And How Life Imitates Baseball

  1. Dana Wagner says:

    I always love when Pat Hughes (WGN Radio pbp for the Cubs) says an outfielder “slapped the leather on it.” #dirtytalknotreally

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