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I found the word ‘a career day’ and ‘a career-high five runs’ in the New York Times article (July 16) reporting Scott Hairston’s dramatic play against Philadelphia Phillies under the headline, “Hairston Fills in With a Career Day, and the Mets Thwart Hamels Again.” The article is followed by the following sentence:

“Playing in right field and batting third for the first time as a Met, Hairston did his best impression of the All-Star Beltran, knocking in a career-high five runs, including a three-run homer, as the Mets pounded the Phillies, 11-2.”

I interpret ‘Career day’ means the best day in one’s life and ‘Career-high five runs’ means best home runs in the player’s life. Can we use ‘Career day,’ and ‘Career event’ like high-five performance’ for any other occasions than baseball or other sports. If I am awarded a summa cum laude at the commencement, can I say ‘It’s a career day for me’? Can I say 'I got a career-high 15 up-votes today'?

I’m asking this because dictionaries at hand including Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary I always consult give definitions of the word, ‘career’ no more than (1) the series of jobs that a person has in a particular area or work. (2) the period of time that you spend in your life working or doing particular things as noun, and (3) to move forward very quickly, especially in an uncontrolled way as verb.

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"Career-high five runs" should be parsed as "Five runs in one game, which is the most he's hit in any one game during his entire tenure as a baseball player." –  KitFox Jul 18 '11 at 2:18
    
@Kit. Thank your advise. I took it for 'Career high-five (home)runs.' I overlooked that a hyphen is placed after career, not between high and five. –  Yoichi Oishi Jul 18 '11 at 2:48

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These terms are not peculiar to sports. A "career day" is not necessarily the best of one's life or even career, but rather a day that is exceptionally significant for one's career. These are extraordinary days that represent the parts of one's career that will be remembered and talked about. A career day will involve (in this example) a player achieving a personal best (such as most runs, most stolen bases, or most hits) or other significant event (batting for the cycle, pitching a perfect game) that also results in his team winning the game.

I think of career days as associated particularly with baseball, probably because baseball is a statistics-oriented sport where the commentators will frequently discuss things as specific as "the last time a left-handed batter hit for the cycle in Fenway Park" (I have no idea if that's ever actually happened, but Joe Castiglione certainly would). However, there is nothing about this phrase that would limit it to sports. I think it would be generally understood in other contexts.

As for the "career-high five runs," as I mentioned in my comment this means "Five runs in one game, which is the most he's hit in any one game during his entire tenure as a baseball player." In other words, five is the highest number of runs that he has hit in his career. You can apply "career high" to any context as well:

When I coded eighteen webpages in a single day, that was a career high for me.

So, Hairston had a career day because he hit five runs in one game, which is his personal best, and it helped his team win the game. Go Mets!

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I think the 'base' expression is career best. If you were talking about a golfer's performance on a particular course, for example, you could still say that. No-one would use career low there, though they might for, say, a 'career worst' in any field of endeavour - regardless of whether there was a number involved where either higher or lower meant "worse". –  FumbleFingers Jul 18 '11 at 3:41

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