Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Word "Jazz" Came from... Baseball?!

Matthew Callahan/Globe Staff

The Boston Globe have posted an interesting article that suggests that recent research shows the earliest time the word "jazz" was used was by a baseball pitcher, Ben Henderson:

One hundred years ago, a hard-throwing but erratic minor league pitcher named Ben Henderson was getting ready for his opening day start for the Portland Beavers against the Los Angeles Angels. Henderson had pitched well for the Beavers the previous year, but he began the 1912 season with a well-earned reputation as an unreliable drunk.

Henderson gave a Los Angeles Times reporter a preview of what he had planned for the game. “I got a new curve this year,” he explained, “and I’m goin’ to pitch one or two of them tomorrow. I call it the Jazz ball because it wobbles and you simply can’t do anything with it.” The headline for the item, from April 2, 1912, was simply “Ben’s Jazz Curve.”

From the diamond fields of baseball to the smoky bars of New York, Chicago, and New Orleans, the word "jazz" is still a hotly debated term to define.

And somehow, all this talk about baseball makes me want a New York hot dog...

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