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11 Fantastic French Phrases for Baseball Terms

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During their years in Montreal, Expos games were broadcast in both English and French, with Jacques Doucet and Claude Raymond serving as the French-language team. To do so, they had to translate the lexicon of the historically American game into French. Some words were easy enough, but for quirkier terms they had to search for the right French phrase. In his account of the Expos' history, Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, Le Grand Orange, Youppi!, The Crazy Business of Baseball, & the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos, Jonah Keri talked to Doucet and Raymond about that experience and includes a list of some of the French terms they coined. Here are some of our favorites.

1. French Term: Balle papillon
Means: knuckleball
"Papillon" means butterfly, a reference to the knuckleball's fluttery movement.

2. French Term: Cercle d'attente
Means: On-deck circle
Literally translates to "waiting circle," which makes even more sense than our English term.

3. French Term: Changement de vitesse
Means: Changeup
"Changement" means "change" but the whole phrase actually translates directly to mean "shift." It's unclear how to reference a "shift" on the field in French.

4. French Term: Balle cassante
Means: Breaking ball
In French, the ball is not "breaking" but "brittle."

5. French Term: But volé
Means: Stolen base
"But" actually means "purpose" but it can also be used to mean a "goal" or "target', which is how it came to be the French word for "base."

6. French Term: Arrêt-court
Means: Shortstop
This actually says "stop-short" in French.

7. French Term: Coup sûr
Means: Hit
"Coup" is a widely used action word, meaning "blow" or "knock" or even "hit." "Sûr" means safe.

8. French Term: Flèche
Means: Line Drive
The direct translation means "arrow," which is a beautifully evocative and accurate description.

9. French Term: Mauvais lancer
Means: Wild pitch
Or, "bad throw," which it is.

10. French Term: Retrait and retrait sur trois prises
Means: Out and strikeout
"Retrait" is a withdrawal and "trois prises" is "three taken."

11. French Term: Vol au sol
Means: Shoestring catch
These last-minute catches, just before the ball hits the grass, are what the French call a "ground flight."

Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, Le Grand Orange, Youppi!, The Crazy Business of Baseball, & the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos is on sale now.

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Seattle Mariners Fans Are Going Crazy for These Crunchy Grasshopper Snacks
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Great Big Story, Youtube

Seattle Mariners fans have more than warmed up to the newest, offbeat addition to the Safeco Field concessions menu: toasted grasshoppers covered in chili-lime salt.

The crunchy snack, which sells for $4 and comes packed in a small container, has only been available for less than a season but has already sold 300,000-plus orders to date. That's about 1000 pounds of grasshoppers. 

Frequenters of Seattle's popular Mexican restaurant Poquitos will know that this delicacy—which first started as a novelty item on its menu—has actually been available to the public for six years. But it wasn't until local chef Ethan Stowell was hired to give the Safeco Field menu a hip retooling that the salty bugs found new, fervent popularity at the ballpark. (Also on the Safeco menu: fried oysters drizzled in hot sauce.)

Great Big Story met up with Manny Arce, the executive chef of Poquitos and visionary behind this culinary home run, to discuss the popularity of these crunchy critters. You can watch the video interview below:

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The First High Five Recorded in the History of Sports
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We don’t quite know who invented the high five—but we can pinpoint the moment it became inextricably linked with sports, which the short documentary The High Five explores below.

On October 2, 1977, Los Angeles Dodgers leftfielder Dusty Baker scored his 30th home run, making the team the first in history to have four players—Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, and Reggie Smith—with at least 30 homers under each of their belts. Fellow outfielder Glenn Burke was so overwhelmed with joy and pride, he raised his arm and slapped his flat palm against the victorious athlete’s own palm. The moment transformed Baker and Burke into legends.

Sadly, the latter player faced hard times ahead: Burke was gay, and it’s believed that his sexuality prompted team officials to trade him to the Oakland A's the following year. In Oakland, Burke clashed with team manager Billy Martin, then retired early from baseball. Today, Burke is remembered for his charisma and talent—and for transforming a simple gesture into a universal symbol. “To think his energy and personality was the origin of that, that’s a pretty good legacy,” sportswriter Lyle Spencer says in the film.


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