Hit and Run
Posted: 10 January 2008 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]
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One hears a fair number of news stories where somebody hits with a car and runs with the feet, which would be the literal meaning, but of course the usual understanding is “running” with the car. The typical hit and run, to my knowledge, implies that no driver or car is available for evidence. What is the origin? Is it pre-automobile? Must be a baseball canoe there.

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Posted: 10 January 2008 06:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The OED2 has hit and run in the automobile sense from 1924.

The baseball sense is older. The OED2 has it from 1899, although it’s not clear from the brief citation whether the sense is exactly the same as used today:

1899 Chicago Daily News 2 May 7/1 A rare combination for the hit-and-run game.

The familiar sense appears a bit later:

1904 R. H. BARBOUR Bk. Sch. & Coll. Sports 188 Team batting. The best known example of this is what is called the sacrifice hit or ‘hit and run’. Ibid. 191 The ‘hit-and-run’ play may also be used when there is a man on third and a run is badly needed.

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Posted: 14 January 2008 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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According to Peter Morris, the strategy of the hit-and-run play was fairly widely established by 1890 or so.  It is older than that, but there may have been re-inventions of old, obscure plays.  Unfortunately, Morris is not clear about the age of the term.  In fairness, that isn’t his area of study.

My copy of Dickson is in hiding.  That is the other place I would look.

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Posted: 14 January 2008 01:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Dickson doesn’t provide a “first use” citation for hit and run like he does for most terms. The earliest source he refers to specifically is from 1905--although he also says the strategy is from the 1890s.

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