I know; you're surprised. But on a recent trip (immediately post-storm, when refugees were leaving New Jersey to find electrical power) to Gettysburg, PA, it was revealed to me that Doubleday was in fact at the battle of Gettysburg, but his only connection to America's budding national pastime was that he tried to requisition some baseball bats and other equipment for former slaves under his command, and was denied. Apparently even that far back, African Americans were being banned from playing baseball.
This comes as no shock. I knew Doubleday was only the mythical inventor of the game, that it was a sort of bastardization of a game called Rounders from England, mixed with Cricket, or something like that. But hey, America did what it does, which is to take stuff from other places and make it our own.
So consider the differences in the English language (particularly American English) if the game of baseball had not been invented, by Doubleday or anybody else. We would have lost the expressions:
Throw a curve ball at you;
Out of left field;
Swing for the fences;
Go for the no-hitter;
Warming up in the bullpen;
Going, going, gone (with a possible exception for auctions);
Pinch hit for;
Take one for the team;
I could go on.
Then, there are the expressions that one hears during a baseball game and wishes would go away:
"He left his feet making that catch";
"Tonight's starting lineups, brought to you by Lexus";
"Our good friends at the Fox News Channel";
What it really means when they say:
"He's struggling a little lately" (He couldn't hit a beach ball at this point);
"He had a really good swing at that one" (He missed);
"That was a great piece of hitting" (He accidentally hit one safely when he was trying to hit a home run);
"He's a veteran presence" (He's old);
"That got a piece of the catcher" (The catcher may never be able to have children now);
"The umpire has a wide strike zone tonight" (The umpire has early dinner reservations);
"The team is in rebuilding mode" (You're lucky if they stay out of last place);
"We'll be seeing you tomorrow night" (You'll be seeing us tomorrow night, if you choose to watch).
Can you tell I'm going through baseball withdrawal?
Pitchers and catchers report in 88 days.