Why Is It Called a Pickle in Baseball?

Baseball is a sport that has a unique set of terms, phrases, and expressions, including the term “pickle.” Pickle, as it pertains to baseball, is an expression used to describe a situation in which a baserunner is caught between two bases. Even though the term is widely used, the origin of the term “pickle” is a bit of a mystery. In this article, we will take a look at why it is called a pickle in baseball.

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What Is a Pickle in Baseball?

In baseball, a pickle is a situation in which a baserunner is caught between two bases. It typically occurs when the baserunner is trying to advance to the next base, but the defensive player has the ball and is able to tag the runner before they make it to the base. The runner is then stuck in the middle, or “pickle,” of the two bases, unable to move in either direction.

The Origins of the Term

It’s unclear exactly how the term “pickle” came to be associated with the situation described above. The most common theory is that the term was first used by a New York Giants catcher named Chief Meyers in the early 1900s. According to this theory, Meyers was known for his ability to “pickle” baserunners by quickly tagging them while they were stuck in the middle of two bases.

Another popular theory is that the term “pickle” is derived from the German word “Pfahl,” which means “stake” or “stick.” This theory suggests that the term “pickle” refers to the baserunner being stuck between two bases, unable to move in either direction. Additionally, there is a theory that the term is derived from the Yiddish word “perle,” which means “a little nut.” This theory suggests that the term “pickle” is a reference to the baserunner being stuck between the two bases, like a nut in a shell.

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The Pickle Rule

In addition to being an expression used to describe a situation on the field, the term “pickle” is also used to refer to a specific rule in baseball. This rule, known as the “Pickle Rule,” states that if a baserunner is caught in a pickle and the defensive player with the ball steps on the base before the runner can reach it, the runner will be called out. This rule is designed to prevent baserunners from taking advantage of the situation and gaining an unfair advantage by running back and forth between the two bases.

Conclusion

The term “pickle” is widely used in baseball to describe a situation in which a baserunner is caught between two bases. While the origin of the term is still a bit of a mystery, the most common theories suggest that it was first used by a New York Giants catcher in the early 1900s. Additionally, the term “pickle” is also used to refer to a specific rule in baseball that prevents baserunners from taking advantage of the situation and gaining an unfair advantage.