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I have been reading an article of Charles Krauthammer written about baseball. To be honest, I'm not a fan of this sport then when I bumped into the above phrase, I didn't have any clue of what "stone-gloved" means. Below is the full context.

"Now understand: This is not the charming, cuddly, amusing incompetence of, say, the ’62 Mets, of whom their own manager, Casey Stengel, famously asked, “Can’t anybody here play this game?”—and whose stone-gloved first baseman, Marv Throneberry, was nicknamed Marvelous Marv, the irony intended as a sign of affection."

A quick research about Marvelous Marv has been taken and I get that this guy is some kind of the worst defensive player at the first-base position. So does the fact has any relation with the puzzled phrase above? Or could anyone kindly explain for me in detail the meaning of such phrase?

Thank you in advance!

  • 3
    As a side note, I've also heard (and used) "hands of stone" a lot in reference to American Football as an indication that the person drops a lot of balls. – Matt M Dec 7 '17 at 20:48
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    It's probably worth mentioning that "soft hands" is the metaphorical opposite for someone who doesn't, erm, drop the ball. – Phil Sweet Dec 7 '17 at 21:17
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    As a non-american I first thought it was someone who could catch a ball thrown at high speed without hurting their hands, I.e. that their hands were metaphorically as hardened to the slap of leather as stone. – Criggie Dec 8 '17 at 4:28
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    @Lambie Football? Don't you mean hand-egg? – oerkelens Dec 8 '17 at 12:09
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The first baseman's most important skill is catching balls batted and especially thrown to him in his glove. A "stone glove", which would make catching balls extraordinarily difficult, is a conventional metaphor for inability to catch balls and, by metonymy, for lack of other defensive skills.

Incidentally, Throneberry seems to have been a fairly average defensive first baseman; but he made a lot of defensive errors in his first year with the Mets.

  • (You may want to specify for those not in the know that 1b = first baseman.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 7 '17 at 17:13
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    "Throneberry," not "Thornberry" – Azor Ahai Dec 7 '17 at 21:47
  • Thank you everyone and thank you very much. I do get the idea of a man with "stone glove". – William Nguyen Dec 7 '17 at 21:54
  • "Stone" is similarly used in the phrase "stone hands" to refer to an American Football player who has a hard time catching passes – Kevin Dec 8 '17 at 18:10
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If a glove were made out of stone, it would not be very flexible, so it would be difficult to catch a ball in it. Combined with your finding of a reputation of "worst defensive player", the implication is that balls frequently fell out of his glove.

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    also heavy, so he would move it slowly. – Kate Gregory Dec 8 '17 at 14:34
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Though @StoneyB's answer is functionally correct, I think it's important to note that Krauthammer was borrowing from a long tradition of describing someone who can't catch the ball (in the field sport sense) as having "hands of stone" (see, for example, here). In Krauthammer's usage, he's modifying it to accommodate the sport of baseball, wherein the fielding team is wearing gloves to facilitate (or not, in the case of Throneberry) catching the ball on defense.

What's fascinating about this usage is that it was completely overwhelmed in popular (English-speaking) culture by the description of Roberto Durán (the Panamanian boxer), and the movie made about him by the same name, and so any search for it requires some diligence at filtering out those usages.

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