Just in time for the opening crack of bats, the prolific Paul Dickson ’61 has produced The Dickson Baseball Dictionary: The Revised, Expand, and Now-Definitive Work on the Language of Baseball (Norton).
Writing for The Washington Times, James Stroud says:
One cannot be a writer in Washington and not know this local Samuel Johnson of our craft. He is the author of more than 50 books in a staggering range from authoritative accounts of Sputnik, the 1932 Bonus Army March, the history of ice cream and, not surprisingly a whole shelf about the language of slang from the battlefield to the diamond. My claim to objectivity is that I am one of the few writers in our community who has not been involved in a writing project with him.
“This is the third edition of a quest Dickson began in 1989 when his first effort produced 5,000 entries of baseball lore, rules, and jargon. Thirty years later this new edition boasts twice as many entries from A, for the Class A baseball minor leagues, to zurdo, which is “Spanish for ‘lefty’ and ‘southpaw.’” In all, there are more than 18,000 definitions of what clearly is the most vibrant and creative portion of the popular English language. But these aren’t dry explications; there are plenty of anecdotes, and some very funny yarns.
Mr. Dickson explains what he’s up to this way, “From the outset, the idea was that it (the book) had to be useful to a nine-year-old looking for a clear definition of the infield fly rule, but it also had to be a book that would appeal to two of the toughest audiences for the printed word: the baseball fanatic and the lover of language.”