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On deck

Posted by Smokey Stover on September 23, 2007

In Reply to: On deck posted by Marly Huiras on September 22, 2007

: In baseball, the next batter to the plate is known as being "on deck." The hitter following him is said to be "in the hole." I believe the latter term has evolved over time from the phrase "in the hold," a logical extension re: the nautical "on deck." Even the manager is referred to as "The Skipper."

: Can anyone shed any light on this?

I don't believe that "in the hole" in this instance is derived from "in the hold." I thing the hole in question is a hole. That gives us the choice of "fire in the hole," "toad in the hole," or "ace in the hole." Notwithstanding the apparent nautical origins of skipper and on deck, I think it is possible that "ace in the hole" may be the model. That expression is used to refer to a resource of any kind held in reserve or secretly which increases the chance of winning. The actual ace in the hole refers to the face-down ace in a hand in stud poker that only the player knows to be an ace. It's a long stretch, but closer than anything else I can think of. In the hole = ready to be played?

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