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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
Winter's Tale Queries
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1924  Thursday, 2 October 2003

From:           Colin Cox <
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Date:           Wednesday, 01 Oct 2003 08:19:42 -0700
Subject: 14.1916 Winter's Tale Queries
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1916 Winter's Tale Queries

Don Bloom writes:

>If this is not too far from the Subject At Hand, does anyone know the
>origin of this meaning of "from left field"?

As I understand it, the expression 'come from out of left field' does
derive from baseball. There seem to be several notions as to its origin.

1. Because of the distance, a throw from left field is a surprise if it
reaches first base before the runner.

2. As a player heads for home plate he is running away from left field
and cannot see the ball at this point. Thus, if it arrives from here
before he does it will have 'come from out of left field'.

3. As the field is orientated from home plate, most batters hit deepest
into left field. Thus, most of the defensemen placed in this part of the
grounds are busy chasing balls and it is thought surprising if a ball
comes back 'from out of left field.'

Now the expression 'out in left field' I find of more interesting
derivation:

1. Right-handed batters hit deepest to left field and so the defensemen
have to play further out.

2. The left field bleachers are not the most desired seating.

And my personal favourite for all 'left field' jargon:

Behind the left field of Chicago's Westside stadium was the
Neuropsychiatric Institute of the University of Illinois. Any irrational
or surprising behaviour, amongst players and fans alike, was attributed
to their having escaped from the veritable institution! (Always comes
down to Bedlam!)

That one works for me.

Colin Cox
Artistic Director
Will & Company

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