why “time” in baseball? 
Posted: 08 September 2012 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]
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In baseball, the umpire stops play by calling “Time!” I am trying to find an explanation for this, seeing as it is an odd usage for a game with no clock.

This was first codified in the rules in 1868, but I have documented examples as far back as 1859.  Nothing in them suggests that it was a novelty.  This tells me that the practice was accepted as a tacit assumption before it was formalized.  Typically, this sort of thing is borrowed from somewhere else.  In the case of baseball, these tacit assumptions came from cricket.  Does a cricket umpire call “time”?  I don’t know.  And if he does, this just pushes back the question, since cricket also lacks a clock.  The usual fallback for early baseball usages when cricket does help is to look to horse racing.  No obvious analogue presents itself to my mind.  The second fallback is boxing.  Does a boxing referee call “time”?  Did they in the mid-19th century? 

It is a dark mystery.  Can anyone shed some light?

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Posted: 08 September 2012 11:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I see it as a clipping of “time out” and any interruption of the game would be time spent out of play, so I don’t see the need for a direct reference to a game clock. “Time out” is generic enough to apply to many situations.

Just two cents....

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Posted: 08 September 2012 11:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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My wag is that it is short for “time out” and from the beginning in US usage, it didn’t literally apply to time as measured by a clock or such device.OED

(a) orig. U.S. Time forming a break from an activity, task, or occupation. Freq. (esp. in early use) in to take time out .

1892 A. S. Roe Worcester Classical & Eng. High School 58 With the exception of some time out on account of sickness, she has been constantly in the school.
1902 Los Angeles Times 13 May 3/5 Before she departed,..she took time out from her suffering to lay the seeds of the disaster.

If it was borrowed from another sport which did have a clock, it was likely US Football:

1896 W. Camp & L. F. Deland Football vi. 61 Time out, time taken out by the referee when play is not actually in progress.

If the Umpire stops the play in baseball it is, by allusion, “time” or “time-out”. it just seems to me.

pipped by the dog.

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Posted: 08 September 2012 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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As far as I know, the cry of “Time” has been used in the sense of “Time’s up” in all sorts of contexts, for many, many years. In the UK, when public houses were required to shut down at a particular hour, the landlord’s traditional cry was “Time, gentlemen, please!” (for all I know, it still may be, though it’s hardly PC nowadays). I don’t think one should particularly associate it with cricket, or with any other sport. In the case of baseball, I’d say it was simply an archaic survival.

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Posted: 08 September 2012 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I agree with the consensus of the assembly herein assembled: it’s a perfectly natural shortening of “Time out” and requires no special explanation.  (I also thought of “Time, gentlemen, please!”… but of course “Time’s up” is a very different thing from “Time out.")

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Posted: 08 September 2012 03:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The OED also notes the more recent use of “time out” as in “Hey! Time-out” meaning “wait a minute”.

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Posted: 09 September 2012 02:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The OED has earlier citations under time, n., int. and conj. under the phrase to call time (P4.b). It’s pretty clearly a usage that predates baseball as we know it and is common across multiple contexts, although appears to have originated in sports. The OED’s earliest citations are from boxing.

In a sporting context:

1808 Morning Chron. 28 Oct. (heading) On Gregson being beat by not being ready when time was called.

1811 Sporting Mag. July 185/2 The Patriot called time, and walked up to the man of Kent with his arms folded.

1824 P. Egan Boxiana II. 133 He appeared quite stunned, and when “time” was announced, he could not quit the knees of his second.

1840 Sporting Rev. July 59 Redgate went on again and bowled one over, when time was called, and the wickets were drawn.

In a general context:

1858 Knickerbocker Dec. 659 He ‘shall be heard’, however, even if we are obliged, as the stump-speakers say at the South, to ‘call Time’ on him.

In a pub:

1898 Cornish Mag. 1 336 Landlord Penhale called time, and began to put the lights out as a hint that they must go.

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Posted: 09 September 2012 03:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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1808 Morning Chron. 28 Oct. (heading) On Gregson being beat by not being ready when time was called.

This one sounds like calling time indicates the start of the competition.

1811 Sporting Mag. July 185/2 The Patriot called time, and walked up to the man of Kent with his arms folded.

This one is pretty opaque to me but it does sound like it could be the same sense as calling time in baseball.

1824 P. Egan Boxiana II. 133 He appeared quite stunned, and when “time” was announced, he could not quit the knees of his second.

This one is pretty opaque to me, too, but it sounds like it’s being used in the same sense as the 1808 quote.

1840 Sporting Rev. July 59 Redgate went on again and bowled one over, when time was called, and the wickets were drawn.

Someone more acquainted with cricket could explain what “the wickets were drawn” means.  It could be the same sense as the modern baseball usage or it could indicate the end of play.  I know they have limited over versions of cricket, but that still wouldn’t explain the use of “time” to indicate end of play.  It seems to me that the most logical source would be an extension of the publican’s announcement that the pub was preparing to close.

In a general context:

1858 Knickerbocker Dec. 659 He ‘shall be heard’, however, even if we are obliged, as the stump-speakers say at the South, to ‘call Time’ on him.

In a pub:

1898 Cornish Mag. 1 336 Landlord Penhale called time, and began to put the lights out as a hint that they must go.

Is this the earliest citation in a pub-closing context?  If so it would seem to put paid to the notion that this is the context that gave rise to the sports usage.

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Posted: 09 September 2012 03:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The 1808 and 1824 are both from boxing. The “time” here is the interval between rounds, and when time is called, the fight resumes. The sense of a break in the sport’s action is the same, only the announcement is at the other end of the interval.

I’m not sure what sport the 1811 citation refers to, but it’s pretty clearly in the same sense as the modern baseball usage.

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Posted: 09 September 2012 04:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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First class cricket is played over several days. There are fixed hours of play: typically the close of play will be at 5pm or 6pm depending on the location and season. Assuming the minimum number of overs (sets of six deliveries) has been completed when the planned time of close of play is reached, then when the current over is completed, the umpires call time and draw stumps (ie pull the little wooden poles out of the ground), and that is it for the day.
Close of play is also called “stumps”, e.g. one might say, “England were 323 for 6 at stumps.”

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Posted: 09 September 2012 06:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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OP Tipping - 09 September 2012 04:36 AM

First class cricket is played over several days. There are fixed hours of play: typically the close of play will be at 5pm or 6pm depending on the location and season. Assuming the minimum number of overs (sets of six deliveries) has been completed when the planned time of close of play is reached, then when the current over is completed, the umpires call time and draw stumps (ie pull the little wooden poles out of the ground), and that is it for the day.
Close of play is also called “stumps”, e.g. one might say, “England were 323 for 6 at stumps.”

If I ever needed a mark in time where I could say without equivocation that I know that I don’t understand Cricket, this might be the moment I might be wanting to cite.

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Posted: 10 September 2012 03:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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OP Tipping - 09 September 2012 04:36 AM

First class cricket is played over several days. There are fixed hours of play: typically the close of play will be at 5pm or 6pm depending on the location and season. Assuming the minimum number of overs (sets of six deliveries) has been completed when the planned time of close of play is reached, then when the current over is completed, the umpires call time and draw stumps (ie pull the little wooden poles out of the ground), and that is it for the day.
Close of play is also called “stumps”, e.g. one might say, “England were 323 for 6 at stumps.”

I’m guessing that “stumps” and “wickets” are synonymous in this context.

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Posted: 10 September 2012 04:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Effectively, yes. Stumps are the three uprights, and the wicket is the little ‘gate’ formed by the stumps and the bails (the two short sticks laid across the top of the stumps).

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