Get to first base

Posted by ESC on April 25, 2005

In Reply to: Get to first base posted by Staci on April 25, 2005

: What is the origin of the idiom "get to first base"? I am doing a class assignment and need to know where it came from. Thanks for the help!

GET TO FIRST BASE - "To succeed in the initial phase of an undertaking. The term comes from baseball, where getting to first base by hitting the pitched ball, by being 'walked' (being pitched four balls out of the strike zone), or by being hit by a pitched ball (accidentally) is the first step toward scoring a run for the batter's team. By the early 1900's this term has been transferred to taking a first step toward success in any activity. In the mid-twentieth century the term took on a secondary meaning among teenagers, that is, first base represented the initial stage of sexual intimacy, specifically meaning kissing." From "Southpaws & Sunday Punches and other Sporting Expressions" by Christine Ammer (Penguin Books, New York, 1993). Page 70. First base: "referred to both the position and the player in the 1840s. To 'get to first base' meant 'kissing' among teenagers in the 1950s and 1960s." From "Speaking Freely: A Guided Tour of American English from Plymouth Rock to Silicon Valley" by Stuart Berg Flexner and Anne H. Soukhanov (Oxford University Press, New York, 1997). Page 393.