Pickle – 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.

“A failry common occurrence in baseball is when a runner is caught in between two bases, in an area in which he can be tagged out and the defensive players are throwing the ball back and forth, trying to get the scampering runner out before he can reach a base safely. This situation is called a ‘Pickle’.”

The actual baseball term for a pickle is called a rundown. This part of a baseball game is generally very spontaneous and it is something that the crowd loves to watch. It is very entertaining and slightly humorous because of the runner’s constant change in direction to try and avoid getting tagged out. If you can picture a rabbit in a confined area, running between too foxes trying to catch it; that is what a rundown looks like. This baseball term comes from another form of folklore in daily speech in which someone may say “I really got myself into a pickle here.” This means that one is in a troublesome situation and is trying to get out of it. This is exactly what the baserunner is trying to do in a Pickle. This is also a funny word, and as stated earlier, this situation in a baseball game is humorous to watch.

As a little league player, we used to play a game called “pickle” in which we would mimic this in-game occurrence. I have heard this term since I was a child and it s a very well-known term in baseball.

An example of a pickle is shown here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxqU_cBPZcc