Baseball metaphors for sex
Among American adolescents, baseball metaphors for sex are often used as euphemisms for the degree of physical intimacy achieved in sexual encounters or relationships. In the metaphor, first prevalent in the aftermath of World War II, sexual activities are described as if they are actions in a game of baseball.
Details and popularity
Though details vary, a broadly accepted description of what each base represents is as follows:
- Strikeout – a failure to engage in any form of foreplay or sexual activity;
- First base – mouth-to-mouth kissing, especially French kissing;
- Second base – touching or kissing the breasts or other erogenous zones; can be either clothed or not clothed; manual stimulation of the genitals;
- Third base – oral stimulation of the genitals;
- Home run (fourth base) – "full" sexual intercourse.
Additionally, there are two metaphors used to refer to men who have sex with men:
- Pitching – the man performing anal sex
- Catching – the man receiving anal sex
Other similar metaphors include:
- Switch-Hitter – a bisexual individual, referencing a player who can bat from either side
- Playing for the other team – usually indicating a person is gay
The metaphors are found variously in popular American culture, with one well-known example in the Meat Loaf song "Paradise by the Dashboard Light", which describes a young couple "making out", with a voice-over commentary, by baseball announcer Phil Rizzuto, of a portion of a baseball game as a metaphor for the couple's activities. A similar example can be found in Billy Joel's song "Zanzibar" in which he compares himself to Pete Rose and sings the lines "Me, I'm trying just to get to second base and I'd steal it if she only gave the sign. She's gonna give the go ahead, the inning isn't over yet for me."
Educators have found the baseball metaphor an effective instructional tool when providing sex education to middle school students. Levin and Bell, in their book A Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey With Your Kids About Sex, make use of it to aid parents in the discussion of puberty with their children, dividing the topics into "first base" ("Changes from the neck up"), "second base" ("Changes from the neck to the waist"), "third base" ("Changes from the waist down"), and "home plate" ("The Big 'It'").
This sequence of "running the bases" is often regarded as a script, or pattern, for young people who are experimenting with sexual relationships. The script may have slightly changed since the 1960s. Kohl and Francoeur state that with the growing emphasis in the 1990s on safe sex to expand sex beyond heterosexual penetrative intercourse, the "home run" has taken on the additional dimension of oral sex. Richters and Rissel conversely state that "third base" is now sometimes considered to comprise oral sex as part of the accepted pattern of activities, as a precursor to "full" (i.e. penetrative) sex.
- Hellermann, Steven L.; Markovits, Andrei S. (2001). Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism. Princeton University Press. p. 66. ISBN 069107447X.
- Romaine, Suzanne (1999). Communicating Gender. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. p. 210. ISBN 0-8058-2926-1.
- Jezer, Marty (1982). The Dark Ages, Life in the United States, 1945–1960. South End Press. p. 248. ISBN 0-89608-127-3.
- Green, John. Looking for Alaska. ISBN 0-14-240251-6.
- Pearlman, Jeff (2007-08-29). "Phil and Meat Loaf will always have "Paradise"". ESPN. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
- Bielen, Ken (2011). The Words and Music of Billy Joel. Praeger. p. 50. ISBN 9780313380167.
- Letterman, David (2001-09-19). Top Ten Baseball Euphemisms for Sex. Late Show with David Letterman. Retrieved 2010-04-30. (Search the "Top Ten" archive by the show date here.)
- Hall, Alvin L.; Altherr, Thomas L. (2002). "Eros at the Bat: American Baseball and Sexuality in Historical Context". The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture 1998. McFarland & Company. pp. 157–182. ISBN 0-7864-0954-1.
- Leman, Kevin; Bell, Kathy Flores (2004). A Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey With Your Kids About Sex. Zondervan. ISBN 031025096X.
- Juliet Richters and Chris Rissel (2005). Doing it Down Under: The Sexual Lives of Australians. Allen & Unwin. p. 32. ISBN 1-74114-326-8.
- Kohl, James V.; Francoeur, Robert T. (2002). The Scent of Eros: Mysteries of Odor in Human Sexuality. iUniverse. pp. 153–154. ISBN 059523383X.