Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996 17:53:07 -0800

From: "James Arthurs, Linguistics [AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] UVic." jarthurs[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UVIC.CA

Subject: Re: out in left field

The WORST player was always put in right field, not left. Right field is

the position which receives the fewest balls in play, as it is primarily

left-handed batters who hit in that direction, and the ball must also get

past the infield for the right-fielder to have a chance at misplaying the

ball. I know. I spent a lot of time "out in right field." THAT phrase's

meaning is very different for me from "out in left field."

Greg Pulliam

Illinois Institute of Technology

I, a native non-American, am puzzled.

I have followed this thread re. "(from) out in left field" and note that

the discussion (cf. above) turns mostly on the notion of the calibre of

the player who is "(out) in left field".

As one who played cricket rather than baseball, I can assure you that

baseball's "playing in left field" has much in common with cricket's

"playing on the boundary", i.e. each means being off in the distance,

hence well away from the focus of the action and thus, in the case of the

U.S. metaphor - as I understand it, anyway, out of touch and/or irrelevant.

It seems to me that characterising the player is not the point here and

that thinking otherwise is precisely what has led to the (surely irrelevant)

discussion of "left" versus "right" and of left-handed hitters and so on.

More to the point, the very use of the word "out" seems to me to be unmotivated

here, unless the metaphor turns on the notion of

distance/separation/irrelevance etc.

Now, finally and irrelevantly, I should point out that in cricket as in


it is very often the duffer who is exiled to the furthest boubdary, to keep him

- and so, with luck, the rest of the team - out of trouble.

I know - I've been there!