Following baseball, at the best of times, can be a confusing little endeavor, full of obscure terminology and phrasing no one has ever heard, or will ever hear, anywhere but on a baseball field. A lexicon seems a small grace to ask, under the circumstances.
For general vocabulary, Baseball-Reference’s English-to-Spanish reference is an invaluable resource. What we offer here is an addendum, which covers terms and phrases that are not simple translations from the boricua Spanish unique to the Insular Republic.
|Writers, scorers, statisticians and other personnel attached to the Almanaque, the LNP’s archival publication meant primarily for internal consumption. Initially composed purely of game scores and small notes, grew in time into a comprehensive record of every season whose publication became a significant revenue stream for the league in the twentieth century.
|Designation used for soldiers in the Army of National Liberation who could neither read nor write; unsurprisingly common in an army made up mostly of peasants and former enslaved men. See Informe General.
|Preseason; period of time during which teams train for the upcoming campaign, play exhibition games, and sign last-minute free agents to plug holes in the roster.
|Batallón Eleuterio Gómez
|Eleuterio Gómez Battalion
|Officially the 1st (and only) Battalion, 9th Regiment of the Army of National Liberation, intended to incorporate any men the revolutionaries emancipated, before high command realized it made far more sense to integrate them into existing units. Named for Eleuterio Gómez (1845-1868), an enslaved man in Ponce who, upon hearing of the Revolution, killed his owner and attempted to flee to the Insular Government. Gómez was caught and hanged by the municipal government, which would soon be ejected by the Red Lions, who first created a battalion in his name. It never exceeded two hundred men in size, and was disbanded shortly after the War of National Liberation.
|Rotation in which two pitchers alternate starting games, with an occasional emergency starter used if neither starter is rested. See faetón.
|Postseason or playoffs, especially in smaller leagues with fewer rounds. In LNP baseball, the last two rounds of the postseason: the Campeonato de Las Ligas for the Betances and Hostos pennants, and the Campeonato Nacional Puertorriqueño for the national title. See torneo.
|Pitcher who looks good through two or three innings, then falls apart in the midgame. A reference to the castoff artillery pieces the English surreptitiously provided to the Army of National Liberation, which had a worrying tendency to explode or break down at particularly dramatic moments.
|Pitching staff in such dire straits that every member must be ready to enter every game, regardless of situation or fatigue. The most consistent feature of historically bad teams.
|Team that makes the postseason either by unexpectedly taking the division banner from a more established rival or winning a surprising wild card. See sembra(d)o.
|Nineteenth-century equivalent to a major league contract. Players on completos were officially employed by the team and drew salaries from their budget. They were either on the active roster or, if reservists, traveled with the team in order to substitute for injured players.
|Nineteenth-century (and very rough) equivalent of a minor league contract. Players who signed simples simply promised a team first call on services. They could receive cash up front, or were sometimes promised a salary if they were added to the active roster early in the season.
|Team that cannot seem to make the postseason no matter what it does, either due to divisional dominance from a rival, bad luck with injuries, or general incompetence from the front office.
|Rotation made up of four or more pitchers, which became standard in the early twentieth century and remained
|Rotation in which two pitchers alternate starting games, especially if the pitchers do not appear to have the stamina to last through whole games. See calesa.
|Bullpen or armbarn. Taken from the image of “warming up” an arm.
|Haphazardly-compiled document from 1870 that purported to be a detailed count of the Army of National Liberation. Sources disagree—virulently—as to how complete, or useful, it was. More completely titled Informe General de las Fuerzas Insulares.
|Annual meetings during which LNP sponsors and personnel meet with league officials to decide on various regulatory matters and, usually, to wheel and deal as necessary. Rotated location before finding permanent housing near the beach at Rompebote,, where many functions are still held today.
|Enduring nickname for the headquarters of the Liga Nacional Puertorriqueña, whether the physical plant or the executive nerve center housed therein. By synecdoche, any of the league’s various governing bodies over the years, especially those under the direct control of the Commissioner. Taken from the Puerto Rican term for a sugar mill.
|Designation used for soldiers in the Army of National Liberation who could functionally read and write. Such men were often sought out for sergeancies or other important positions requiring these abilities. See Informe General.
|Former enslaved persons who revolted, escaped, and formed militias to take violent action against the slaveholding class. Name stems from an incident in which Getulio Perales García, a particularly abusive slaveholder whose lands straddled Vega Alta and Vega Baja, was beaten to death in his bed by several of his former enslaved farmworkers.
|Pitcher of average quality but decent stamina, who mostly appears in situations where someone still has to pitch. Similar to the English term “mop-up man.”
|Volunteer unit named as a rather patibular pun on their exploits in the town of Comerío, whose name is supposedly derived from a man yelling ¡ay, que me come el río! (“oh no, the river’s going to eat me!”). At its “founding,” the Pelotón comprised around 25 men, each of whom received a rifle, a machete, a (notoriously unreliable) grenade, whatever ammunition could be spared, and the encouragements and prayers of their comrades, who were otherwise quite surrounded by the Spanish Army. They began their grueling campaign in October of 1869; the last of the survivors rejoined the Insular Forces ten months later.
|peor que cuando Téllez fue al cuartel
|worse than when Téllez went to the police station
|Expression very local to Camuy, indicating an unnecessary debacle that proves embarrassing to its instigator. Relevant to Tibulo Gallegos’ career.
|“Rotation” made up of one pitcher. That is, only one pitcher on the roster is officially registered as a starter, with others called to start games as needed. An unsustainable proposition for any but the shortest seasons.
|Ramírez Medina, Francisco
|First President of the Insular Republic of Puerto Rico (1868-1871), who led the Insular Government through three turbulent years of revolution. His reward was being displaced by his own chief soldier, General Rojas, on whom he promptly avenged himself as President of the Constitutional Assembly (1872-1876).
|the Remote One
|Military hospital whose frenzied construction (on the then-uninhabited island of Culebra) and equally intense defense from Spaniard attacks is the subject of some of the most defabulated exploits of the Army of National Liberation. Eventually, it was replaced by a more permanent structure suitable for use as a veterans’ home. The current edition of the Recóndito, its fourth, was inaugurated in 1987.
|Pitcher who could only be trusted to last one or two innings, and therefore was never called upon to start a game. Unlike many other insults for pitchers, this one died out by the middle of the twentieth century.
|Period of time it takes a baseball team to play all of its possible opponents at least once, often used as a way of dividing up the season into meaningful tranches. In the Liga Nacional Puertorriqueña, for example, a ronda lasts at least 38 games into the season. Teams or players may be evaluated on the production of their first, second, or third ronda.
|Pitcher who for whatever reason can’t seem to complete a game, which in the nineteenth century was seen as the bare minimum of effort. Similar to the USian “five-and-dive.”
|Team that makes the postseason every year, especially if it does so by regularly winning the division banner.
|Textual recognition provided by generals in the Army of Liberation to worthy soldiers, since they could spare neither the metal nor the labor to strike medals during the Revolution. The honor of being a señalado was later buttressed with an automatic promotion and a small pension.
|Pitcher of absolutely terrible quality in every way. Often regarded as fighting words.
|Postseason or playoffs; after the main season is concluded, each team that won their division, plus a suitable number of wild cards, advances to a tournament to decide the league champion for the year. In LNP baseball, used to refer specifically to the first three rounds—the Series Preliminar, Eliminatoria and Interdivisional. See campeonato.
|Torre de San Blas
|Tower of Saint Blaise
|Breathtakingly grandiose name for the hastily-erected wooden “fortification” the Red Lions erected to mark the northeastern border of their territory, shortly before the Treaty of Orocovis joined them to the Insular Government. Served as a lookout and rally point for soldiers entering Spanish-held territory in the eastern Cordillera.
|Rotation made up of three pitchers. Later, when four-, five- and six-man rotations became standardized during the season, referred to the three pitchers most teams would use as starters during the playoffs.
|Pitcher who, whether due to injuries or his team’s usage philosophy, only seems to make occasional visits to the mound.