More Discussion of Baseball Idioms

Ballpark figures in the idiomatic sense are rough estimates of something.  To knock something out of the park is similar to a home run, but more so.  It is similar to a touchdown in football as it puts a score on the scoreboard.

Out of left field or in left field is difficult because it is so far removed from the original ballpark term that it doesn’t really make sense: A hit to left field may really be quite good, but out of left field “describes an idea that sounds irrelevant, even crazy.  Paul Dickson’s Baseball Dictionary cites several explanations, notably that when the Chicago cubs moved to Wrigley Field, the site of their old park was developed by the University of Illinois, which built a mental hospital in–where else?–left field.”  (On Language, by Jack Rosenthal)



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