Why Batters pound the plate

It also helps to clear any dirt off the top of the plate, so you can better see it out of the corner of your eye, to help determine if that pitch is just a tad too far out there to swing.

CKDextHavn adds: Here’s the link to the column (save you some time, Jill): http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a4_113.html

[Note: This message has been edited by CKDextHavn]

This is mentioned in an obscure treatise by socio-anthropologist Zacharias Wheat, PhD., who for years held the Piltdown Chair at LaBrea College. As it happened, Dr. Wheat was an avid baseball fan. He surmised (quite correctly, I believe) that when a hitter pounds the bat on home plate it is an unconscious atavistic gesture hearkening to man’s earliest use of weapons. (Consider, if you will, the Dawn of Man sequence in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”)

I thank you.

feh! Professor Harold Shea, in his brilliant treatment of the Nacirema, totally demolished Wheat’s lurid and unsupportable analysis. Shea proved conclusively that the fruits of Wheat’s Positivist Logicalism could simply not support the position and the only thing that could be reasonably clubbed was Wheat. (That this never actually happened was due, primarily, to the unfortunate experience of Prof. J.C. Harris’s protegè, B. Rabbit, in the encounter with the Child of LaBrea.)


The reason baseball players do this (and tennis players bounce the balls a couple of times, etc) is that forming a ‘ritual’ manoever can help an athlete get into a peak performance mental state. It helps focus the mind on the task, and helps get you in the ‘zone’. Pool players that are highly successful always take warmup strokes in exactly the same way, or set up over the ball in exactly the same way. Olympic Archers do the same thing, as does anyone else where great focus and accuracy are required.

“Lurid?” “Unsupportable?” With no disrespect meant personally, tomndebb, citing a discredited hack (and a notorious cross-dresser, I might add) is hardly a refutation of Dr. Wheat’s eminently sound scholarship.

As to dhanson’s thesis . . . I would agree that such ritualistic behavior can be an important part of gathering oneself. Suzuki describes its effects in “Zen and the Art of Archery.” And do not forget the key role the repeated, patterned movement of the hands had in helping Norton focus his concentration before writing (Ralph Kramden’s frustration notwithstanding).

I myself have a brief ritual which I carry out before logging on. It involves a bottle of Windex, a Q-Tip and Kundalini breathing techniques combined with several of the more rudimentary tai-chi forms.

What? Why has no one mentioned the phallic bat and the vaginal plate?

While I would never wish to call the esteemed Jomolungma’s opinion into question, it is inconceivable that anyone could actually believe the natterings of that charlatan Wheat (who had his name legally changed from his birth name, Chaff) on the issue of the bat and plate. Shea was obviously more familiar with edged weapons, but there is no reason to refer to him as a hack.
Dex, you call it a “plate” in your neighborhood?


Is that anything like a dental dam?

Tom . . . you seem an intelligent, reasonable fellow. How, then, can you cling to the myth
that the eminent Dr. Wheat had a name change at birth? That discarded allegation ranks
with the blatherings of the Flat Earth Society types and those who slavishly comb
Nostradamus’s every utterance for millennial portents!

Now, to Dex’s take on the subject at hand. I would suggest that if we are looking for
Freudian symbolism in the Summer Game it would be far more apt to keep our eye on the
on-deck hitter as he slips his long, hickory-hard lumber into the doughnut ring, grasps it
firmly in both fists and swings it vigorously.

You may paraphrase the Lecher of Vienna by claiming, “sometimes a Louisville Slugger is
just a Louisville Slugger.”

I think not.

Yeah, nothing sexier or more sensual than a tobacco-chewing, spitting, testicle-scratching guy in wide-assed pants pounding a plate with a bat. Reeks of suggestiveness to me, anyway.

I had the good fortune to attend a group lesson with tennis great Roy Emerson. Emerson (call me “Roy”)said that tennis players bounce the ball directly below the point where they intend to toss it – or at least that’s what they ought to be doing.

one word>>> ants

Thinking back to my glory softball days, I remember hitting the plate to align myself to my standard stance…didn’t really require whacking the crap out of the plate, but there was an element of machismo there.