When Was the Phrase ‘Walk-off Home Run’ First Used?

Now “walk-off” appears in Merriam-Webster and other dictionaries.


Walk-offs used to mean only home runs. But when Joe Panik won a game for the Giants last October, it was called a “walk-off double.”

Monica M. Davey/European Pressphoto Agency

More than a decade ago, some were already sick of the term. In 2000, Sports Illustrated wrote, “Like crab grass invading someone’s lawn, walk-off has taken root in sports lingo and gotten out of control.”

Seventeen years later, it has spread even farther.

While once walk-off was applied pretty much strictly to home runs, it soon came to be applied to game-ending singles and doubles as well. The first time The New York Times used the term appears to be in 1999, and it did not start regularly appearing in a non-home-run capacity until 2007 or so.

In 1951, Bobby Thomson hit the Shot Heard Round the World to beat the Dodgers. In 10 Times articles about the game, the famed clout was described as “the unbelievable finish of the most fantastic pennant race in major league baseball history,” “as insane and as…

Read Story

Translate »