MLB Education: Food-Related Baseball Sayings that You Need to Know

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A few weeks back, I provided translations for a variety of baseball clichés. My goal was to be helpful, and I thought I’d succeeded. On further review, a phrase I hope to never hear during a baseball game, it’s apparent that I missed one area entirely – baseball sayings related to food.

Food preparation, food utensils, types of food, reactions to food, you name it. Rather than listing them, as I did with the earlier round of clichés, I searched baseball’s extensive print and electronic archives for examples of common baseball expressions related to food. After an exhaustive search, I believe I’ve found the finest example of the use of baseball’s food sayings by a single player in a single interview. The following comes from an article appearing in the Newark Evening News a few years back. The byline has been lost to time.

I caught up with Ralph “The Dagger” D’Agostino, a hot dogger from Hunterdon High, during a game of pepper.  D’Agostino, a sandwich pick a few years back, is now the team’s clean-up man. He rehashed a crucial at bat from last night’s game. Here’s his account.

“Bottom nine, table was set. Three ducks on the pond. There was one out because Schmitty, a ham and egger from the PCL, got caught in a pickle trying to stretch a single into a double. Dutch had his fork ball working, so I crowded the plate. He started me off with some high cheese with a little mustard on it to get me out of his kitchen. Ball one. I’d faced him in the  second. He got me out on my front foot with a change up and I hit a can of corn to center. Now I was looking for it. I’d been feasting off division pitching for a week, so I liked my chances. Besides, when he was up for a cup of coffee last year, I hit a grand salami off him that nearly put us in the playoffs. Instead of the change, he serves up some nasty cheddar that misses. Ball two.

Now I got him where I want him. He’s got to come in with the heater or he’s cabbage. I’m thinking I could hit another tater off this guy. The a.b.’s starting to look tasty. If he comes in with cheese at the knees I’ll cream it. He checks the runner at third and delivers. Instead of the heater he brings the hook for strike one. Okay, nice pitch, but I’m still ahead 2 and 1. Next pitch, he jams me with a screwball. He wants the outer half of the plate, so he’s backing me off. But now it’s 3 and 1, and he’s in the soup, big time. I’m practically swinging at the next pitch before he’s even in his wind-up. Here it comes. I’m swinging for the fences. It’s a cutter! I didn’t   know he had a cutter. I knew about the cheese, the hook, the change, the fork, the screwgie, but a cutter? This guy’s throwing the kitchen sink at me. Long story short, I choke on a jam sandwich and it’s another can of corn to short right. Game over! Check, please.”

Let me know if you need any of the items translated.

Jonathan Dyer has been a baseball fanatic since playing Little League in the 1960s, and he’s been following the Oakland A’s since moving to the Bay Area in the late 1970s when he watched Rickey Henderson play for Billy Martin. Dyer, the author of three novels, now brings his long-term perspective to writing about baseball, connecting the modern game to its historic context. You may email Jonathan directly at or follow him on Twitter @dyer_jp. You can follow his progress on two new novels he’s writing at


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