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English Vocabulary Lesson: Baseball Idioms May 17th, 2018

Baseball Season: Play Ball!

Play ball

One of the most anticipated days in spring in American culture is opening day in baseball. This year opening day was March 29 for all baseball teams, with opening day at Fenway Park in Boston on April 5. Baseball is such an important part of American life that we use baseball idioms every day to refer to things not related to the sport. Therefore, it is a good idea for you to be familiar with the idioms when you are learning English.

Let’s take a look at some idioms taken from this very popular sport:

To hit a home run: to succeed at something
“He hit a home run with his new idea. The clients loved it!”

To throw a curveball: to surprise someone with something that is unpleasant to deal with
“Joe threw me a curveball when he asked me about my ex-girlfriend in front of my current girlfriend.”

To play hardball: to act aggressively
“He was not backing down. In order to get what he wanted, he was going to play hardball.”

To step up to the plate: to take responsibility for doing something
“Jack stepped up to the plate when I needed him to take over the planning of the party.”

A ballpark figure: a rough estimate
“Can you give me a ballpark figure of how many people were at the party? I don’t need an exact number. I just want to know around how many people were there.”

Right off the bat: instantly, immediately
“I liked him right off the bat. He smiled at me and made me feel so comfortable when I first met him.”

Out of left field: suddenly from an unexpected source or direction
“John was asked a question out of left field and he didn’t know how to answer it.”

To be on the ball: to be quick to understand and react to things
“To be a store manager, you have to be on the ball and make decisions quickly as situations arise.”

Three strikes and you’re out: you have three chances to succeed
“The boss gave his employees three strikes and then if it was justified, he fired them and then they were out of a job.”

To keep your eye on the ball: to stay focused
“My mentor told me to keep my eye on the ball and not get distracted from my goals.”

If you are interested in learning more about baseball or are thinking about going to a game (there are 162 games in a season!), here is a link to some basic rules about the sport: http://www.baseball-rules.com/basicbb.htm