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No rain stops play in baseball 'showers'

The Monitor's language columnist is batting a thousand on her baseball terminology.

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A new lexicon is a reminder of how America's national pastime has enriched its national language.

Vaudeville performer and songwriter Jack Norworth scratched out the lyrics of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" on a 25-minute subway ride in New York in 1908. He was inspired by an ad he glimpsed at a station stop: "Base Ball Today – Polo Grounds." That was all it took. He wrote a couple of verses and a chorus "as easily as one might take dictation," baseball scholar Paul Dickson writes. Norworth's collaborator, Albert Von Tilzer, composed the music. Their song was a big hit, and, a century later, it's still going strong as the unofficial anthem of the national pastime.

This is one of the tidbits from the newly arrived edition of "The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, Third Edition." It's one serious tome. It's nearly as hefty as another desktop stalwart, my "regular" dictionary. Well, OK, it has bigger type. But not that much bigger.

And it has some great historical photos, albeit reproduced rather small. Among my favorites: a shot of Norworth asking directions to the ball park. He's carrying a walking stick and his attire includes a bowler hat, a wing collar, and spats. Another shot shows a bunch of banner-waving Red Sox "rooters" in 1915. They're in three-piece suits and ties. Their celluloid collars made them look like Herbert Hoover except that they appear to be having too much fun. There's a shot of Casey Stengel in 1916, wearing sunglasses. They had sunglasses in 1916?

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