For years, I’ve wanted to leave my mark on baseball history, as a dog might on a patch of grass. I came up with a name for those years of the game dominated by huge stats and little testes: “The Dead Balls Era.”

And I forced it on people.

I put “Dead Balls Era” in print again and again and again and again. I’d search the web every so often, only to get the bad news that nobody was adopting my brainchild. In December 2007, nearly three years after I’d started lobbying for my phrase to become the official name of the all-steroids, all-the-time time in the National Pastime, “Dead Balls Era” was getting nine hits on Google.


And all but one of them was either a link to something I’d written for Washington City Paper or a mistakenly pluralized stab at “Dead Ball Era,” an accepted tag for major league baseball from the turn of the last century til when Babe Ruth made ladies love the long ball (“Dead Ball Era” is, I hope obviously, the inspiration for my, you know, cunning pun.)

But I never gave up hope that some day, some way…..

And then today, during another Googling expedition, I found this on a message board: “Given the effects of steroids on male body chemistry, we should call this the ‘Dead Balls Era.'”

This comment came in a thread from May 28, 2009, that was originally about whether a game record or career record is more prestigious, but soon morphed into a discussion of the state of baseball. And the writer who typed that familiar-to-me-and-me-alone phrase was also the site administrator of the message board.

That would be Ken Jennings.

He’s the guy who won $3,022,700 playing Jeopardy!, making him the greatest game-show contestant in world history.

What I’m getting at here, people, is this: KEN JENNINGS THINKS “DEAD BALLS ERA” IS CLEVER!

I don’t care if he stole it or he made it up on his own.


This guy’s a genius! So…what does that make me?

In any case, thanks to Ken’s addition, “Dead Balls Era” is up to 27 Google hits.