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[word-lover] 【整理】2008-04-27 Words and Their Stories

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Now the VOA Special English Program Words and Their Stories

American English is full of colorful expressions. One such expression is “to touch all bases”. It comes from the sport of baseball. There are four bases in baseball—first, second and third. The fourth is home plate. Together, the bases form a diamond sharp. When a baseball player hits the ball he must run to each base in order and touch it with his foot. It is the first way to score a point. If the player hits the ball and fails to touch all the bases, the point will not be counted.

 

The importance of touching all the bases was shown at the start of the 1974 baseball season. H.G. was a player with the Atlantic Braves team. He was seeking the record for hitting the most homeruns. A homerun is a ball that is hit over the wall. H. needed just one homerun to equal the record held by B.R., the greatest hitter in baseball history. H. got that homerun the very first time he had the chance to hit the ball. He sent the ball over the wall that surrounded the play field. That gave him 714 homeruns the same as B.R.

 

After that day, baseball fans held their breath very time it was H’s term to hit. When would he hit the homerun number 715? The wait was not long. In the second week of the season, H. again hit the ball over the wall. He had beaten B.R’s record. But first he had to run around the four bases. The other players on his team watched carefully, to make sure he touched each one. If he did not the homerun would not have counted. There would have been no new record. So “to touch all bases” means to do what is necessary to complete an activity.

 

The expression is used in business and politics. No business deal or political campaign is really complete until you discuss all the issues involved. Or as it is said: until you touch all the bases. Even professional diplomats use this expression as well as others that come from baseball. A diplomat in reporting on negotiations with diplomats from different countries may say they touched all the bases during many hours of talks. This means they exploit all issues involved in the situation. Perhaps they did this after expressing hope that they could play ball each other, meaning that they could learn to cooperate.

 

Sports reporters write about fast moving lively events. They must develop a way of writing that goes straight to the point. Their duty is to give the reader a complete feature of the event in as few words as possible. They must touch all the bases as quickly as they can.

 

This VOA Special English Program Words and Their Stories was written by M.F. This is Bob D.

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