Date: Mon, 8 Jun 1998 19:56:44 -0500
From: Gerald Cohen
Subject: Re: "tinner" in 1910 baseball poem

My thanks to the people who have responded to my query about the 1910
baseball poem, particularly to Gregory Downing for his 6/5/98 ads-l
message. His comment about "off the reel" meaning "immediately" is right
on the mark.

"Tinner" remains a problem, however. The dictionaries give "tinner" as
a miner of tin, or a tinsmith, but neither fits the poem. In the context
of the poem, "tinner" seems to mean "an unproven talent." The poet says:
"Sign me up--I'm now a tinner/But I've trained with all the good ones."
I.e., he hasn't played in the big leagues yet, but his preparation has been

Here is part of the third verse, with the second and third lines of
interest now:

I can hit like Honus Wagner, I can steal like Tyrus Cobb,
In the field I'm all the grapefruit [i.e. I'm the cat's whiskers], at
the bat I'm on the job--
Never entered any college
But I'm there on inside knowledge--
[etc. etc. etc.]

So, "never entered any college"--i.e. hasn't played in the big leagues,
"but I'm there on inside knowledge"---i.e., I've learned the game
elsewhere. This seems to repeat his observation a verse earlier that he's
a "tinner" but has "trained with all the good ones."

Still, what all this has to do with "tin" remains a mystery. Maybe
Jonathan Lighter has something about this in his files.

--Gerald Cohen