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Eric Peterson, Published September 21 2011

Peterson: Baseball's language spoken by Concordia senior

MOORHEAD - Baseball generations past may have referred to catcher Joe Mauer as a “fluffy duff,” pitcher Carl Pavano as a “slabman” and a Twins doubleheader on Sunday as “high mass.”

Michael Eikmeier, a Concordia College student who grew up near St. Cloud, Minn., feels that unique baseball jargon has eroded in recent years with broadcasters and sports writers using less and less of the colorful language. Eikmeier thinks this weakens the overall experience.

“There are thousands of words that are no longer used and they were once pretty popular,” said Eikmeier, who is a senior English writing major.

Eikmeier presented his lecture, called “Losing More Than Cans of Corn: Baseball Jargon and American Spirit,” Tuesday night at Concordia as part of the school’s student lecture series.

“The American identity, baseball was such a big thing for the first half of the 21st century and right now it’s just in decline,” Eikmeier said. “I think that one of the main reasons is people just stopped using the jargon.”

For those keeping score at home, a “fluffy duff” is a player who is easily hurt. “Dizzy” Dean, a major league pitcher in the 1930s and 1940s, used the term that he may have coined. A “slabman” is slang for a pitcher because he throws from the “slab” or pitching rubber. “High mass” refers to a doubleheader that is played on a Sunday.

“There’s still jargon there, but just the majority of it is going away,” said the 21-year-old Eikmeier.

Eikmeier gives three main reasons why jargon is being used less.

First, the game becoming more commercial so the terms are used less because advertisers want language that is inclusive to larger audiences.

Second, the game is more international so players from other countries have their own idioms.

Third, using less colorful jargon makes the game easier to comprehend for new fans.

While Eikmeier didn’t play baseball growing up, he’s been a fan as long as he can remember with his dad and older brother being his main influences.

He turned from fan to fanatic his freshman year at Concordia. One of his friends was a Swedish exchange student. Through explaining the game to the Swedish student, Eikmeier fell in love with the game even more.

The baseball dictionary Eikmeier used for most of his research has more than 18,000 definitions.

“That blew my mind,” he said.

While baseball remains popular, drawing more than 73 million fans for the 2010 season, most think the National Football League has become the dominant professional sport in the United States.

“A lot of people are saying it’s no longer the national pastime,” Eikmeier said. “The attendance kind of argues differently. I think it’s no longer the love affair that it once was.”

That would be akin to the home team hitting into a “twin killing.” For those keep score at home, that means double play.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513