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Wednesday, January 28, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 25.0° F  Overcast
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The Baseball Thesaurus is an insider's guide to the game's lingo
Talkin' baseball

Every time I hear Milwaukee Brewers announcer Bill Schroeder call a sharp line drive a "frozen rope," I'm reminded why I love the game. Words are as integral to baseball as statistics. It's a sport that makes people leap after synonyms like fielders flying into stands to catch a foul ball.

That's why Bob Uecker shares a place of glory in Miller Park alongside Hank Aaron and Robin Yount. Hitters change the score, but talkers enrich the language.

What do you call that thing players use to hit with?

Jesse Goldberg-Strassler has come up with 82 answers, from baton to biff stick to leather-beater to lumber to moneymaker to magic wand. These he sets out in The Baseball Thesaurus, a new book from August Publications, run by Middleton-based baseball guru Kevin Reichard.

A minor league broadcaster, Goldberg-Strassler has compiled dossiers on dozens of baseball terms, adding in some anecdotes, quotes and incidental facts. It's a fun book.

Did you know virtually every brand-new baseball (a.k.a "pearl") used in Major League play is first scoured with Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud, to get the sheen off? You do now.

Why is a fastball sometimes called a Linda Ronstadt? It's a pun on the singer's hit song "Blue Bayou," as in what that baseball just did.

What did Boston Red Sox pitcher Dennis Lamp say after his team hit into two triple plays in one game? "Well, we did keep out of the double play."

But it's the word lists that make the book. What happens when a team is convincingly beat?

Try these on for size: "scalp, school, shame, shell, shellac, shred, skin, slam, slaughter, smack, smack down, smash, smear, smite, smoke, snuff, spank, spike, squash, squelch, stampede, steamroll, stomp, stuff, swallow, swamp, swarm, swat"? And that's just the S's.

I can imagine legions of future broadcasters studying this book like the Dead Sea Scrolls. It may also find an audience among a sportswriter or two. Or, if you prefer, scribe, scrivener, penner or hack.

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