1

With Kansas City winning the Wordl Series, we can no longer watch baseball games until next Spring except for international games "Premier 12" or Australian League.

Stove means:

a portable or fixed apparatus that burns fuel or uses electricity to provide heat (as for cooking or heating).

[Merriam-Webster]

I googled the origin of the "stove league" and understand that people gathered around a stove in Winter to discuss baseball-related topics and issues and that's where it came from.

Questions:

  1. What is the origin of it and was it coined only for baseball? Any other hidden/unknown connotation in the word "stove" to mean a baseball off-season?

  2. Is it correct to say that "stove league" is used only for baseball in the U.S. (maybe in Canada, Australia, etc. I know it is used in Taiwan, Japan, Korea and other non-English speaking countries to mean the same)? You would never call any off-season of sports like association football or tennis "stove league"?

  3. I know association football is played in Winter in England and other European countries. What would an "off-season" called for football in England? Any Summer or hot-weather-related word?

Thanks.

  • For questions 2and 3 probably the Sports site would be more helpful and appropriate: sports.stackexchange.com – user66974 Nov 3 '15 at 6:34
  • @Josh61 Out of curiosity, what do you call a football off-season in England? – user140086 Nov 3 '15 at 8:15
  • Unluckily I am much into football...off-season is what I'd use, that's why I suggest the Sports site where you are likely to receive more proper help, or may be other users will help on this, – user66974 Nov 3 '15 at 8:19
  • @Rathony - for me, English football off-season is known as cricket season. (More correctly, cricket off-season is called football season.) – JHCL Nov 3 '15 at 9:05
1

In the United States today, I believe, "hot stove league" is used primarily to refer to off-season discussions about baseball.

The Dickson Baseball Encyclopedia, third edition (2011), cited in Josh6's answer, gives a first occurrence date for the term "Hot Stove League" of 1908:

1ST USE. 1908 "This situation [that the New York Giants will win] ... will give the 'fans' something to talk about when the Hot Stove League opens its season" (The Sporting Life, Sept. 19, p.3; Stuart Y. Silverstein).

I don't find a reference in this dictionary entry to the claim that "Hot Stove League" was first applied to baseball in 1897.

In the Library of Congress's Chronicling America newspaper database finds its earliest match for the term "hot stove league" in 1908. From "Base Ball Notes," in the [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star (December 30, 1908):

The handicap billiard tournament for the championship of the Hot Stove League is drawing to a close at [John] McGraw's in New York. Christy Mathewson and Sammy Strang will play a "double-header" with McGraw this afternoon. Yesterday, Charley Atherton, who seems to be the "class; of the tourney and likewise "scratch" man, defeated McGraw 100 to 50.

All of the named individuals were baseball players, and three of them played for or managed the New York Giants in 1908.

Three days later came this cartoon caption in the Spokane [Washington] Press (January 2, 1909):

Around the hot stove the drafted bush league phenom tells an admiring audience what he will do to the big leaguers.

The next winter the Wenatchee [Washington] Daily World (December 9, 1909) had a roundup of midwinter baseball news headed "The Hot Stove League," and on March 14, 1910, the [Washington, D,C,] Evening Star published "Won in the Ninth"—"a base ball story" by Christy Mathewson—the Hall of Fame pitcher and erstwhile billiards player—that includes this passage:

And so they talked and talked until long after time to be in bed, and told all the stories about the great Lowell clubs of the past, the great pitchers, the catchers and the fielders, and the fellows called it the first meeting of the Hot Stove League of Lowell University, 19—. This talking league lasted through part of February, by which time the freshies who had done wonders on the high school team at home, and who had come to Lowell with high hopes of making the team, had a pretty good idea of the kind of enthusiasm and loyalty and, most important, hard work they would have to show to get on the team at Lowell.

And finally, the [Washington D.C.] Sunday Star (November 20, 1910) published a poem called "The Hot Stove League" that closes with these lines:

What if their plays are built of smoke and laughed to scorn by men?

They have but to light their pipe to play them o'er again.

There are no dubs in the Hot Stove League, every guy is a star, by jove,

For every galoot slams the ball in the snoot—around the old hot stove.

Ah let them play their games in dreams, with never a fault or bull,

With one-hand grabs and double-plays and home runs with the bases full.

But what a corking team we'd have if we signed up every cove,

And they all played ball like they do in the fall—around the old hot stove.

As these various quotations suggest, a "hot stove league" in the early 1900s was not necessarily preoccupied with major league baseball. Local talent and local teams could be as much a focus as the top baseball league, depending on who was doing the discussing, analyzing, or reminiscing.

2

(Hot) stove league is used to refer to devotees of a sport, especially baseball, who meet for off-season talks. According to The Dictionary of American Slang it was also applied to horse racing. It appears the expression is a typical AmE one:.

  • The off-season entity of devotees, arguments, etc, that keeps baseball serious and topical from October to April

    • [1912+; as applied to horse racing, the term is found by the 1870s] (The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition)
  • According to the The Dickson Baseball Dictionary the expression was first applied to baseball in 1896.

From Wikipedia:

  • According to Hardy, the term hot stove league dates from nineteenth-century small town America when, during the winter, people "gathered at the general store/post office, sat around an iron pot-bellied stove, and discussed the passing parade.

    • Baseball, along with weather, politics, the police blotter and the churches, belonged in that company". Hardy states that the term was popularly employed by sportswriters until World War II, after which rural America gave way to larger, urban centers. Baseball analysis and conversation now became the province of radio and television commentators, with off-season chatter becoming less interactive and more impersonal.

Also:

  • Hot Stove League was the name of a radio segment featuring hockey chatter and analysis that was broadcast between periods on the radio show Hockey Night in Canada beginning in 1939. The segment became a pre-game series on CBC Television in the 1950s

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