Posted by Lewis on September 26, 2007

In Reply to: On deck posted by Bob on September 23, 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?
: : SS

: It's a hole in a very literal sense. the on-deck batter is allowed on the field (in the "on-deck circle") where he can observe carefully. The next batter is not permitted to be on the field, but must remain in the dugout. In prefessional baseball stadiums, the dugouts are literally dug out, below the surface of the field, and the batter in the hole stands on the steps leading up to the field. He is, in fact, slightl below ground.

there are quite a variety of sports pitches around and even within a particular sport, the nature of the facilities can differ from ground to ground. at most football (soccer) grounds, the 'dugouts' are now plastic shelters at pitch level, yet I can recall grounds where the pitch was higher than the dugouts.

does anybody know whether 'dugouts' was originally a British expression or not?

the "subs bench" would not pre-date 1960s in the UK. Substitutes were not permitted until (I think) the mid 1960s and then it was only 1 player. it is now 3 from 5, which with the number of injuries the players suffer, doesn't seem excessive.