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Old 06-26-2004, 04:08 PM
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When was "dinger" first used to mean "home run" in baseball?

I was recently told that the baseball term "dinger", meaning "home run" started at the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, because the RV parking area outside the ballpark is named "Dingerville" and that's where the balls go when homers are hit. Now, according to this website the RV parking area at Rosenblatt Stadium is named Dingerville (after an LSU Tigers fan Glenarp "Dinger" Allmendinger and his wife, Madeline). It makes a good story, but none of this happened before the 1980s, and the area wasn't moved to it's current location beyond the outfield until 2000. I truly believe that the use of the term dinger meaning home run predates these events by many years, but have so far been unable to find any hard proof. So, I'm turning to you, friendly dopers, what's the straight dope on the origins of dinger in baseball?

SC
Old 06-26-2004, 05:42 PM
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This site has another explanation:

DINGER: Term used to describe a Home-Run in baseball. Comes from the sound an aluminum bat makes when it connects well with a ball, thus propelling the ball out of the park. Though aluminum bats are not used in professional leagues, they are quite common in college games.


And Etymology Online has this:

HUMDINGER - 1905, Amer.Eng., originally used of beautiful women; probably from dinger, early 19c. slang word for anything superlative.

I think this one the most likely.
Old 06-26-2004, 06:10 PM
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Merriam Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary cites it from 1974. They are usually accurate. Due to not having the scope of the OED, they can publish more quickly and move back earliest date cites quicker.

If you can find a copy of Paul Dickson's Baseball Encyclopedia, it should have approximately that date. And sometimes, a bit of explanation.
Old 06-26-2004, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
Merriam Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary cites it from 1974. They are usually accurate. Due to not having the scope of the OED, they can publish more quickly and move back earliest date cites quicker.

If you can find a copy of Paul Dickson's Baseball Encyclopedia, it should have approximately that date. And sometimes, a bit of explanation.
Thanks, samclem. I had seen the 1974 date at M-W, but there was no supporting explanation and it still seemed too late in the game to be plausible (at least to me). I'll take a look around and see if I can find Mr. Dickson's Encyclopedia. In the mean time, if any of you doper baseball guys want to take a swing at it, step on up to the plate.

SC
Old 06-26-2004, 06:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aldiboronti
And Etymology Online has this:

HUMDINGER - 1905, Amer.Eng., originally used of beautiful women; probably from dinger, early 19c. slang word for anything superlative.

I think this one the most likely.
Oh, and aldiboronti, the "humdinger" explanation has some potential, but I'd like to see something tying it directly to baseball. Maybe I'm just being too picky. Oh, well.

SC
Old 06-27-2004, 01:20 AM
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To give you some idea of what my suggestion of humdinger is worth, Stana, I'm an Englishman who knows as much about baseball as the rest of my countrymen.

Still, I did pick up en route the suggestion that the term home run came originally from cricket. (NB Suggestion substituted for fact to save face if it turns out to be false!)
Old 06-27-2004, 08:01 AM
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BTW, I did find where the use of the aluminum bat in college baseball dates back to 1970

"The history of aluminum bats in college baseball goes back 34 years. It was 1970 when the metal bats made their debut in the college game. Since then, a variety of metal bats have been used to play the game." From here.

So, that would seem consistent with M-W's 1974 date and the claim that it comes from the sound made by an aluminum bat, but that's a lot of connecting the dots. Can't anyone find a hard, fast, printed reference in a newspaper article or some such from that time period (or a different one) to corroborate (or refute) the fact?

SC
Old 06-27-2004, 09:25 AM
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Using the powers of electronic database searching, I can offer the following:

Aluminum bats were produced experimentally in the late 1930's.

The first use of aluminum bats was in softball leagues in the late 1960's. The Little League authorized the use in the 1971 season. College ball didn't use them except in practice until the 1974 season. That last fact may account for term "dinger" coming so late, and it certainly gives some addional support to the aluminum bat theory.

These facts were gathered from reading 25 newspaper articles from the time period.
Old 06-28-2004, 06:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
Using the powers of electronic database searching, I can offer the following:
<snip>
These facts were gathered from reading 25 newspaper articles from the time period.
Thanks samclem, that's the kind of stuff I was hoping to find.

And just to tie this thing up in a nice, neat little package, does anybody out there have a copy of Paul Dickson's Baseball Encyclopedia that they could look up dinger for us in? If not, I guess I'll have to make the long drive into civilization to find a library and check it out for myself.

SC
Old 06-28-2004, 08:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aldiboronti
Still, I did pick up en route the suggestion that the term home run came originally from cricket. (NB Suggestion substituted for fact to save face if it turns out to be false!)
OK, why would home run come from cricket? Other than the fact that baseball itself is derived from cricket?
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