Wednesday, August 31, 2011

'Frozen Ropes' Origin Something of a Cold Case

Who came up with the term "frozen rope," as in, Adrian Gonzalez smacked a frozen rope off the Monster, but only ended up with a single?

It doesn't appear to have been former Yankees broadcaster Dom Valentino.

Crippled and wracked by disease, Valentino was profiled in a sad NY Times article last week. He's cared for by his son, David, who tries to keep Valentino's spirits up with details from his dad's broadcasting past.

Writes Barry Bearak:

"You had your own signature phrases, didn’t you, Dad?” David asked his father. “Frozen rope, wasn’t that yours, dad?” But the announcer shook his head no. “What about, Going, going, gone,?” But that wasn’t original to Valentino, either.

Wikipedia's Glossary of Baseball defines frozen rope as: A hard-hit line drive. Also a strong throw from the outfield.

UrbanDictionary says: an absolute monster of a linedrive completely cutting through the air

Frozen Ropes is also a chain of baseball and softball camps; there's even a "Frozen Ropes Tigers" rep-level teen baseball franchise.

So if it wasn't Valentino, who came up with frozen ropes?

The authoritative Dickson Baseball Dictionary credits Baseball Digest with defining the term as far back as 1963, with Leonard Schecter writing, "You can almost see the icicles dripping of it."

Dickson also notes an interesting use of the term in espionage circles. A frozen rope in that world is shorthand for "a very important signal intercept," and was used in Clear and Present Danger in 1989.

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