Where Did The Saying "Ball Park Figure" Come From?


2 Answers

Taylor Edgar Profile
Taylor Edgar answered
Opinion appears to be divided on exactly how the saying "ballpark figure" came into being. Its meaning to denote a guesstimate or close approximation is in no doubt however.

One school of thought over the saying's origin is that it lies in baseball and refers to the way in which stadium announcers would give an estimated attendance figure for the game.

The competing theory is that "ballpark figure" was coined in the 1950s, the early years of the space race. Being something of a then inexact science, when a spacecraft returned to earth it was said to be "in the ballpark" if it landed within the pre-designated area. This too is a baseball reference because when balls are hit within the ballpark they are still playable for the fielding team. Those hit outwith the ballpark by the opposing team are home runs and not in play.

Interestingly, it appears that the phrase "ballpark figure" first surfaced in the Wall Street Journal in 1967 and related to a number which was within range of the true figure.

Answer Question