AP issues World Series Style Guide: home runs are not taters or four-baggers, avoid Fall Classic and RBI vs RBIs

Members of the media work in the auxiliary press box in left field as the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers play down below during Game One of the 2010 World Series at AT&T Park on Wednesday, October 27, 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos)

Time for a little baseball break.

The Associated Press issued a World Series style guide on Wednesday. I found it interesting because I’ve never seen a style advisory like this in my six years in the business. Most of the time journalists are just expected to consult from the AP Stylebook and guys like me are learning new things all the time.

The AP Stylebook covers things like titles, state abbreviations (not like the post office) and how to use Google as a verb (Google, Googled and Googling are acceptable but must be capitalized). The AP Stylebook is all about detail.

I thought you baseball fans out there would find this advisory an interesting read.


To help with consistent phrasing in coverage of the Major League Baseball playoffs and the World Series, The Associated Press compiled a World Series Style Guide of key baseball terms and definitions. Also included are some hackneyed terms to avoid. Some of the words are taken from the AP Stylebook. Others are standard usage for baseball stories transmitted by AP Sports. For editorial and style questions, please contact the AP Standards Center at 212-621-1600.


AL and NL championship series

Spell out “championship series” on first reference with the league abbreviations. It’s AL or NL championship series initially, then ALCS and NLCS on subsequent uses. AL stands for American League, NL for National League.

A word for each

ballclub, ballgame, ballpark, ballplayer

Best-of-seven series and best of seven

Hyphenate when used as a modifier with the number spelled out: best-of-seven matchup. On its own, no hyphens in the term: The Red Sox and Phillies meet in a best of seven.


Better to say a player hit a home run, rather than he “walloped'” or “‘blasted'” or “cracked” it. Home runs are also homers, but avoid calling them “dingers,” “‘jacks,” ”bombs,” ”taters” and “four-baggers.” Pitchers can pitch two-hitters, but avoid “twirling” or “chucking” or “fireballing.” And teams try to reach the World Series instead of the “Fall Classic.” In short, avoid hackneyed words and phrases.


Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter or Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter? No apostrophe when describing his role: Jeter is a Yankees shortstop, Roy Halladay is a Phillies pitcher. But if club ownership is implied, use the hyphen for a possessive: the Yankees’ Jeter, the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols and the Braves’ Chipper Jones.

No hyphens

Third base umpire, first base coach, left field line


Sample uses: first inning, seventh-inning stretch, 10th inning; first base, second base, third base, first home run, 10th home run, first place, one RBI, 10 RBIs. The pitcher’s record is now 6-5. The final score was 1-0.

Pitchers’ duel

It takes two pitchers doing well for a duel, so it’s pitchers’ duel (possessive plural), rather than a pitcher’s duel.

Postseason vs. playoffs

The terms aren’t interchangeable. Postseason encompasses all the games after the regular season ends – the first round of the league playoffs, the AL and NL championship series and the World Series. It takes 11 wins for a team to go through the postseason and become champions. Playoffs refers only to the first two rounds that determine the World Series opponents.

RBI or RBIs?

For more than one run batted in, the abbreviation is RBIs: Granderson led the majors with 127 RBIs, Braun had five RBIs in the win. The seldom-used plural written out is runs batted in, but in AP Style the “s” is placed at the end of the abbreviation: RBIs.

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game”

Traditionally sung during the seventh-inning stretch as the teams change sides on the field. Even though AP Style is ballgame (one word) on all other uses of the word, it’s two words in the formal title of this baseball anthem.

World Series

Or the Series on second reference.

World Series champions.

Teams that win the championship are World Series champions, not world champions.

Follow Eric Stromgren on Twitter at @estromgren and on Facebook.