Cheese (1975)

“‘In the Dukes dugout one of Todd’s chief detractors was pitcher Eddie ‘King’ Solomon. ‘C’mon Todd!’ hollered the King. ‘Throw that cheese. We’re rats. We’re goin’ to gobble it up. Do it 19 and 75 super dog Dukes!’” Bart Ripp. Albuquerque Journal, April 12, 1975, pC-2 [Ben Zimmer and Stefan Fatis]

“‘I had good cheese (fastball) but a weak breaking ball,’ said Solomon.” Albuquerque Journal, April 23, 1975, p. 25 [Ben Zimmer and Stefan Fatis]

“He’s always had a decent fastball. But tonight, he had something extra on it and the best location I’ve seen all year. He was bringing a busload of cheese with that fastball.” George Scott, speaking about Luis Tiant, Boston Globe, Septembert 22, 1976, p. 55 [Ben Zimmer]

  • NOTE: Ben also found that cheese shows up a little later [in 1975] in Ripp’s “Baseball Players Have a Language All Their Own” (Aug. 3, 1975, pE3), as one of several terms for a fastball. Ripp’s source for baseball lingo is Dukes player Charlie Manuel. (Stefan Fatis)
  • NOTE: Beyond Ripp, I [Ben] came across sportswriters in the early ’70s talking about ineffective hitters by describing their bats turning to cheese. (Sometimes it’s more allusive — the bats of those struggling at the plate smell like cheese.) Maybe that somehow got transferred to pitches themselves being thought of as cheese, which can cheese-ify the bats of hapless hitters? (Or in the case of the rat-like Dukes, they’ll just eat up the cheese.) (Ben Zimmer)

No earliest use given in 2009 Dickson Baseball Dictionary