Monday, January 26, 2009

A "Mexican Standoff"

Yet another omission from the pages of Tex[t]-Mex? A detailed, etymological enquiry into the roots of the term "Mexican Standoff."

A quick perusal of the internets this morning reveals this op-ed and this definition--the litany of "Mexican" phrases listed there is useful as well.

No doubt "Mexican Standoff" lurks in the same category with "Indian Giver." It is so ubiquitous that is qualifies as a TV trope, as well!

And, lastly, wearable art has come of it as well:


Ask a Mexican (aka, Gustavo Arellano, aka punk) was spelunking this turf over a year ago! Damned "Mexican"! Here's his skinny:

Dear Mexican: When you strike out four times in a game in baseball, why is it called a golden sombrero?

¡Viva Los Dawyers!

Dear Wab: The why of your question is easy. A hat trick in hockey jargon is when someone scores three goals in a game, so some baseball joker over the years decided to invert the colloquialism to honor a player's embarrassing four-strikeout day at the plate. The choice of words follows logic: The next step beyond a mere hat is a sombrero, and the "golden" is tacked on for ironic purposes.

But the more interesting part of your question, ¡Viva!: Who created the term, and when did it first occur? The 1999 Dickson Baseball Dictionary cites the earliest use of "golden sombrero" in the 1989 autobiography of former Chicago Cubs manager Don Baylor. But a June 16, 1987, Associated Press dispatch quotes then-Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose as saying, "We had two guys who got the 'Golden Sombrero' tonight. You know what the Golden Sombrero is, don't you? It's the hat trick plus one." Rose's quip suggests that "golden sombrero" was already popular in big-league clubhouses during the 1980s, but probably no earlier than that--the 1989 edition of the Dickson Baseball Dictionary doesn't list it, while the 1999 paperback version does.

FYI: The Mexican initially leaned toward classifying "golden sombrero" as yet more proof of baseball bigotry against Mexicans, since the sport abounds in negative Mexican-themed terms: Others include a Mexican standoff (used for matchups where nothing ultimately happens) and the Mendoza line, named after Mexican big-league shortstop Mario Mendoza and referring to the mediocre .200 batting average all batters wants to avoid. Ultimately, I decided against the race card: Really, is there a bigger hat out there than the Mexican sombrero? Maybe the cornette associated with the Daughters of Charity, but those nuns stopped using them around the time Sally Field hit the wall. Thus, the sombrero.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget the "golden sombrero"!


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