Baseball Metaphors for Sex

second base

In the culture of American adolescents, the game of baseball is often used as a euphemistic metaphor for the degree of sexual intimacy achieved in intimate encounters or relationships. In the metaphor, prevalent in the post-World War II period, sexual activities are described as if they are actions in a game of baseball.

Although details vary, a broadly accepted description of what each base represents, first base is commonly understood to be any form of mouth to mouth kissing, especially open mouth (‘French’) kissing involving the tongue. Thus, if a person complains that s/he ‘can’t get to first base,’ it means that the partner spurned advances or is not interested, although this is not necessarily a specific reference to a spurned attempt to engage in kissing. Second base is manual stimulation of the genitalia. Third base is oral stimulation of the genitalia. Finally, a home run (Fourth base) is the act of penetrative intercourse.

Other baseball terms commonly used for sex include: To Score is to have sexual intercourse., A Strike out occurs when there is no success at all. Batting for the other team refers to homosexuality, whereas Switch hitting is bisexuality. The pitcher is the active or top partner in (especially homosexual) anal sex or sexual intercourse. The catcher is the passive receiver or bottom partner in (especially homosexual) anal sex or sexual intercourse.

This sequence of ‘running the bases’ is often regarded as script, or pattern, for young people who are experimenting with sexual relationships. The script has changed slightly since the 1960s. With the growing emphasis in the 1990s on safe sex and efforts by the feminist movement to expand sex beyond heterosexual penetrative intercourse, the ‘home run’ has taken on the additional dimension of oral-genital sexual intercourse.

The introduction of oral sex is a ‘new teen model,’ that is replacing the ‘traditional base system,’ in part as an unintended offspring of ‘abstinence-only’ education. In this new model, sex acts, including many that were not included as part of the traditional ‘base’ system, are classified in a wholly different way. The acts that count as ‘sex’ are distinguished from those that do not count as ‘sex’ according to whether it is possible to become pregnant from them. Thus oral sex, anal sex, and ‘a variety of other acts’ are reclassified in the new model as ‘not a big deal’ and ‘part of the realm of abstinence.’ The bases are now defined colloquially as ‘french, feel, finger (or fellate), and fuck.’

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