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Origins of Familiar Sports Terms

Warning Track, Hat Trick, Home Run, Fore, etc

By Rich MonettiPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read

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Warning Track

When Yankee Stadium was designed, it was proposed that the 1928 Olympics would be held there. So a track was included in the original construction and remained. It happened to run inside the home run fence. Hence the term warning track was born.


In the early days of baseball, late arrivals were sent off into standing room only sections. In foul territory, it was said they were herded like cattle, and the term bullpen emerged. Those same areas became the place where relievers warmed up, and the name stuck.

Pointe Blank

The origins date to the 1570s. Blank refers to the white target, and the aim or pointe is close enough that gravity does not have to be taken into account.

Home run

The term originated before fields had fences. A player ran around the bases before the ball could be thrown home.

The Backdoor

The offensive player will go behind the defenders back and on the baseline. So they are going through the backdoor.


One theory says the Scotts shortened before to fore. This was their way of alerting fellow golfers that there was an incoming ball. Another suggests that fore derives from military procedure. Artillery men would yell beware before so the infantry was alerted that shells were on the way, and golf adapted and shortened.


A first year player, the word probably derives from a play on the word recruit.


When the server hits the net in tennis, there are two possible origins. Either it comes from the Saxon word lettian, which means hinder or it comes from an abbreviation of the French word filet, which translates to net.


A best guess is all tennis has to explain this term. If you score zero points in a game, you are so bad that you must just be playing for the love of the game.

The Key

The painted area in basketball used to be much narrower. More like a keyhole, that’s where the term comes from.

The Seventh Inning Stretch

William Howard Taft rose in the seventh inning to stretch his legs, and the crowd thinking he was leaving, they rose out of respect. Part of the baseball mythology, there’s two previous instances. A Brother Jasper of Manhattan College noticed the crowd was a bit unruly. So he called time out in the seventh inning and suggested fans get up and stretch their legs. Catching on, the New York Giants took up the tradition from playing exhibition games against their college neighbors. Finally, actual documentation dates to 1869. Cincinnati Red Stocking manager Harry Wright wrote the following letter. "The spectators all arise between halves of the seventh inning, extend their legs and arms and sometimes walk about. In so doing they enjoy the relief afforded by relaxation from a long posture on hard benches.”

The Hat Trick

The story goes, according to the Hockey Hall of Fame, that when Alex Kaleta of Chicago Blackhawks visited Sammy Taft’s Toronto haberdashery in January 1946, he had his heart set on a fedora. Unfortunately, the winger couldn’t afford the hat so the owner made a deal with him. If he scored three goals against Toronto, the hat was his. Kaleta scored four, he got the hat and the newspapers picked up on the deal. So it became a standing tradition in Chicago, and the phrase caught on. But this was not the true origin. The terminology actually started from a cricket match in 1858. Bowler H.H. Stephenson the culprit, he hit the three wooden stakes on three consecutive pitches. An amazing feat, a collection was taken up and the prize was a hat. From there the phrase spread to other sports.


About the Creator

Rich Monetti

I am, I write.

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