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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Little Bingle

As I was thumbing through F.C. Lane's fascinating 1925 book Batting (a topic for another day) I noticed several references to a "bingles", typical of which is the following from the last page where Honus Wagner is quoted:

"It's the hit that counts. You can't score many runs without the old bingle."

Having not heard this term before I Googled it and found several references to bingle as being a synonym for "single" in online dictionaries but no history of the word or thoughts on why it fell out of use.

I posted my query to SABR-L and Merritt Clifton was kind enough to explain that "Bingle" is a contraction of "bunt single." He says that as it was fading from vogue, it came to mean any single, but that was not its original use. In other words a "bingle" was a slap hit as practiced in the deadball era and later by the likes of Maury Wills and Luis Aparacio. Merritt pointed out that for example, a third base coach might shout:

"C'mon, little bingle now, drop one in."

With the idea being to try and coax the third baseman to play in thereby giving the hitter a better chance to slap the ball past him. When I played I recall coaches saying, "C'mon now, little bingo" but not bingle. I asked several fans older than myself if they'd heard the term before and none had stretching back to the mid-fifties so I assume the term died out shortly after the deadball era as more and more hitters turned to "slugging" as Lane would say.

His response made me wonder how many of Ichiro Suzuki's 225 base hits were actually "bingles"?


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