Nine years ago, when my oldest son started playing rec ball, the only experience I’d had as a baseball fan was watching the Braves on TV. And I never thought to yell encouraging advice to Deion Sanders or Terry Pendleton while they were batting.
Attending Andrew’s first few games, I learned that there’s a whole baseball parenting language that goes along with cheering for your kid. And everyone knew it but me. Over the years, though, I’ve become somewhat fluent in the lingo.
If you’re new at this, I’ve created a glossary you’ll want to print out for games. Here are 10 “helpful” things to yell at your kid while he’s batting, what the terms mean and how to use them correctly.
It’s your moral obligation as a baseball parent to shout these phrases correctly and at the right times. (Heck, in some states, like Georgia, it’s a legal requirement.)
*NOTE: The definitions below are just my interpretations. So, don’t quote me as an authority. And I’ve used male prefixes throughout. Not being sexist, just lazy. And, of course, many, many kids prefer that their parents not yell anything at them while they’re batting. Be sure to ask your kid if it’s helping or hindering him.
1) “Good Eye!” – Yell this when the batter didn’t swing at a pitch and the umpire called it a ball. It doesn’t matter if the pitch barely missed the strike zone or flew wildly into the dugout. And regardless of whether he wisely refrained from swinging or he didn’t even see the pitch because his eyes were closed. As long as the player didn’t swing and the pitch was a ball, yell out “good eye.”
2) “Good Cut!” – This is what you say when the batter has just swung and missed. It’s exponentially more positive than yelling “WHIFF!!!” or “what’s wrong with you?” I have no idea what cutting has to do with it. (Maybe way back before bats were invented, baseball players used swords. I bet it was hard to find catchers back then.)
3) “Now You’re Ready!”– Means the first pitch was a strike, but the batter didn’t swing. Again, you’re trying to be encouraging, as if the kid just needed a couple extra seconds of meditation before being ready to swing the bat.
4) “Be a Hitter Now!” or “Be a Hitter, Baby!!!” or “Be a Hitter for Mama!”– I never understood this one. Like, what else is he going to be while standing in the batter’s box holding a bat? An appliance repairman? I eventually learned that “be a hitter” means you’d rather get a hit than a walk. So don’t just stand there, hoping every pitch will miss the strike zone.
5) “Swing Like You Mean It!“- If your kid half-halfheartedly swats at a pitch, like he’s not sure if he’s holding a bat or an orchestra conductor’s baton. Use this phrase to encourage him to swing HARD and drive that ball into the outfield.
6) “Way to Battle!” or “Way to Stay Alive!”- You hear this a lot when the kid has two strikes on him and he continues to foul off every pitch. As if he’s at war with the pitcher. Well, I guess he sort of is.
7) “Protect!”– To be honest, I have no clue what this means. It’s like those Under Armor shirts that say “protect this house.” What house? Seems like a cheer you’d use for a security guard. (Maybe they’d stay awake more if we cheered for them.)
8) “Straighten It Up” – Yell this when the batter has just hit anywhere from one to 37 foul balls. Of course, he already knows to straighten it up. But remember, as a good baseball parent who cares about your kid’s success, it’s your job to yell things he already knows.
9) “Wear It Like A Sweater!” – The first time I heard this I was utterly perplexed as to why anyone would shout something so random and ridiculously unrelated to baseball. Plus it was 96 degrees outside! But like all these phrases, this one has its place in baseball parent lingo. People yell “wear it like a sweater” if the kid has just been hit by a pitch, but they’re obviously still alive and able to trot down to first and hopefully score a run, eventually. The “sweater” in this case is sort of a badge of honor for taking one for the team.
So why don’t we yell “wear it like a badge?” Or even “wear it like a medal?” I mean, people don’t get awarded the “sweater of honor.” Soldiers who do something extremely heroic aren’t presented a “purple sweater.” Maybe the first person who ever shouted this was selling sweaters at their kid’s ballgame and attempting a little subliminal advertising. We may never know how it originated.
10) “Gotta Be Your Pitch!”– In this instance, the pitcher isn’t throwing strikes and if the batter is going to swing at a pitch, it had better be one that he’s sure he can successfully hit. (Preferably a line drive, but we’re not gonna be too picky here.)
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11) “Go Shopping at the Gap!” – The first time I heard my friend Dawn cheer “Go shopping at the Gap” to her son Carson, I wondered if she was spontaneously affected with some Tourrettes-like neurological disorder and was just yelling out things on her to-do list. Being the good friend that I am, I shouted “clean the downstairs bathroom” from my own to-do list, to try to make her feel less ostracized because of her disorder.
Later I realized that “go shopping at the Gap” has an actual meaning. The non-retail translation is “hit the ball to a place where a fielder isn’t covering….a gap.” So, why don’t we just say “hit it in the gap?” Maybe we should ask Dawn.
12) “Just Try to Connect!” or “Just Make Contact!”– This one’s for the tentative hitter or the average batter who’s facing a beast of a pitcher. It’s like saying “Look kid, we’re not asking for much. Just do whatever you have to do in order for the bat to touch the ball and we’ll call it a success.”
13) “Quick Hands!”-The pitcher’s throwing fast balls and the batter needs to react accordingly. This would also work well if your kid decides to take up boxing.
14) “Wait On It!”– The direct opposite of “quick hands.” Definitely not a phrase to be used if your kid becomes a boxer.
I’m sure I’ve left some out. In the comments, tell us some helpful things you yell at your kid when he’s batting.
For more humor writing you can relate to, visit the author’s blog, angelaweight.com. Download her latest ebook, Just Kidding, Not Really. It’s perfect reading for in between tournament games or in the bathroom.