Chin Music – Baseball Jargon

Informant: Matthew Henry McGeagh is my 19 year-old  twin brother. He was born and raised in Pacific Palisades, California. His family history comes from Irish, Catholic, Jewish, German, and Swedish roots; with an emphasis on the Irish culture. He attended Catholic school from kindergarten until 12th grade and was raised Catholic by his family as well. He played many sports growing up and is very athletic. He now plays baseball at the University of Pennsylvania.

Matt said, “Man that pitcher was really hitting me with the chin music that at bat.”

My brother said that this baseball lingo refers to a pitch that comes at the hitter, “high and inside.” That means that the ball that was pitched came very close to the batter’s head region but did not hit him. Pitcher’s do not appreciate it when a batter stands close to the plate because it makes it harder for them to throw an accurate pitch (a strike). Therefore, if a batter stands close to the plate, the pitcher may purposely throw the ball close to the batter’s head in order to get him to stand further away. Also, it is harder to hit a ball as a batter if you are further away from the plate, so throwing the ball at the batter’s head would certainly scare him and cause him to step back. The term “chin music” comes from the fact that the ball is pretty close to clocking the batter in the chin. Also, when a ball is pitched you can often hear the speed of it hissing by. The closer the ball is to your ears, the louder you’re going to hear it, hence the “music” part of the phrase.

This phrase is used extremely often and used as an explanation of a pitch, a complaint to an umpire, or a general observation. Players, announcers, and dedicated fans all use this term. It is a term that a baseball player hears often and uses often, whenever the occurrence happens. It is honestly a sort of euphemism for a wild pitch that is looked at as unfair or intentional. I love this sort of jargon, it allows for a common language amongst the culture of the sport.