Where does "for those of you following along at home" come from?
April 28, 2006 10:14 AM   Subscribe

What's the origin of the phrase "For those of you [playing/following/scoring] along at home?"

I just used this expression and am curious where it comes from. My best guesses are old school television/radio game shows, or maybe radio baseball. (Though I have no evidence, I particularly like the baseball idea because it gives me a warm, fuzzy picture of a prototypical 1940s kid listening along to the game and keeping a box score).

Google gives 42,600 results for "playing along at home," 27,300 for "following along at home," and 199 for "scoring along at home," so perhaps my theory is bunk.

Can anyone provide me with the answer?
posted by AgentRocket to Writing & Language (23 answers total)
Baseball play by play? The broadcasters will often announce the official ruling on an amibigious play.
posted by xmutex at 10:15 AM on April 28, 2006

Old game shows, maybe?
posted by JekPorkins at 10:19 AM on April 28, 2006

For the "scoring" version, I don't think you usually hear it with the "along". If you search for if you're/if you are/for those of you scoring at home, you get 37400 results at Google. I don't think your theory is bunk; I still hear it during baseball broadcasts today.
posted by Turd Ferguson at 10:37 AM on April 28, 2006

"Playing along at home" is definitely from game shows. The phrase baseball announcers use is "keeping score at home".
posted by jjg at 11:09 AM on April 28, 2006

Can I add on here?

I've recently been confused by the frequent usage by a friend of mine of the phrase "playing the home game" to mean the same thing, i.e. participating remotely. Are the origins likely the same?

If it matters, the speaker is from the Midwest.
posted by pineapple at 11:12 AM on April 28, 2006

Yes, game shows used to have "home versions" - they probably still do. I particularly remember Concentration, where you answered questions to reveal part of a... what's it called... rebus? (Picture puzzle.)
posted by SashaPT at 11:22 AM on April 28, 2006

Definitely, both "playing along" and "home game" are from game shows. Jeopardy comes to mind as a show that has promoted a home game at various points in the distant past. Game shows were huge in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and board-game/home version tie-ins were common.
posted by Miko at 11:23 AM on April 28, 2006

I don't think you could use the home game to play along with the television show, though. The home game allowed you to play when the show wasn't on. When the show was on, you'd be "playing along at home", not "playing the home game".
posted by jjg at 11:29 AM on April 28, 2006

Don't forget game shows such as What's My Line?, where the object of the game is revealed to the studio and viewing audience in advance. 'For those of you playing along at home, close your eyes now.'
posted by holgate at 11:31 AM on April 28, 2006

The "home game" was also often offered as a consolation prize -- "departing players get a lovely _____ and a copy of the home game" sticks in my memory.
posted by The Bellman at 12:35 PM on April 28, 2006

I'd say it's from baseball, many fans both at home and at the park like to score the game this isn't just the score but the stats on players and event's during the game.

In baseball there's an offcial scorer. So if someone hit's a single that's dropped or muffed ot they get to second, they get credit for a "single" with an Error. The determination of this is made by the game's official scorer.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:55 PM on April 28, 2006

I really doubt it's from baseball, if only because I can remember the words verbatim from so many TV game shows.
posted by Miko at 1:02 PM on April 28, 2006

There are two separate but similar phenomena here, as sveral people have noted. Scoring at home is about baseball, probably goes back to before TV, and continues today. Playing along at home is definitely game shows. And there were a bunch of radio game shows (the linked site doesn't say anything about playing along at home, though.)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:31 PM on April 28, 2006

I've listened to between 100-120 radio (St. Louis Cardinal) baseball broadcasts per year for each of the last 8-10 years... and I can tell you that Mike Shannon will use some variant of "for the folks scoring at home...", on average, every other game or so. Perhaps slightly more. It's very, very common.

There are still people (mostly old timers) who I have met that will fill out a scorecard along with the radio broadcast. I've met them. An accountant I knew had binders filled with literally thousands of Cardinals games he had scored since his young adulthood. (He also told me that he'd attended exactly one game in person, and he said he didn't keep a scorecard of that game!)

"For those of you scoring at home" is used, primarily, in two situations:

1. After the official scorer has given his ruling on a hit/error... or,

2. A non-typical play that might be confusing to annotate correctly on a scorecard.

EXAMPLE: Runner on first, pitcher's spot up to bat. Corner infielders are charging to cover the bunt. Batter lays down the bunt, fielded by the first baseman who throws to the shortstop to get the lead runner at second, who in turn throws to the Second Baseman who has wheeled around to get the force at first.

In this sort of bang-bang situation, any or all of this information can be lost in the official play-by-play (especially when good ol' Mike Shannon is slurring his way through it... [god I love Mike Shannon] )... thereby necessitating the following clarification:

For those of you scoring at home: that was a 3-6-4 double play... *

* [3, 6, and 4 are shorthand abbreviations for the first baseman, shortstop and second baseman, respectively. They're used primarily when scoring a game].

It's my strong suspicion that this use of the phrase predates all the others.
posted by cadastral at 2:00 PM on April 28, 2006

Your version does predate, cadastral, but it's qualitatively different. The expression "playing along at home" may have been influenced by "scoring at home", but indirectly, not directly.
posted by Miko at 2:18 PM on April 28, 2006

Well... I guess my point is that I suspect that in the field of: "performing an ultimately useless and marginally fun action at home along with a broadcast"... baseball was an innovator.
posted by cadastral at 2:51 PM on April 28, 2006

Absolutely! Leading the way in American pastimes.
posted by Miko at 3:07 PM on April 28, 2006

I guess my point is that... baseball was an innovator.

The point, however, is utterly irrelevant to the question under consideration here.
posted by jjg at 3:41 PM on April 28, 2006

Not really related, but one of the funniest lines I've ever heard on live TV was when either Patrick or Olbermann (on ESPN's Sportscenter) was going over a highlight of a confusing play, and then said, "that was 6-3-2-3-1, if you're scoring at home... or even if you're alone."

I'll note that the baseball theory is definitely correct for the answer to the question, to keep this post somewhat on topic.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:22 PM on April 28, 2006

I think it's baseball and/or gameshow related. I think ESPN also had a line that went something like, "...if you're scoring at home, if not, try flowers."
posted by Frank Grimes at 8:04 PM on April 28, 2006

I'm obviously late to the party, but I remember Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek using the "if you're scoring at home" business back in the '70s. "Playing along at home," I dunno, but I'd bet a lot of money that "scoring at home" came from baseball.

And yeah, the "even if you're alone" line from "Sportscenter" cracks me up.
posted by diddlegnome at 10:55 PM on April 28, 2006

Rock Steady, that was Patrick I believe.

Dave Niehaus, the play by play guy for the Mariners since the earth cooled, once said, during a split-squad intramural spring training game, "That's 6-4-3 if you're scoring at home, but I don't know why you would be..."
posted by vito90 at 12:42 AM on April 29, 2006

I know David Letterman didn't invent it, but it was one of his oft-repeated phrases, and that's my most recent memory of it.

He'd say "for those of you scoring at home...and by the way, good for you."
posted by Bud Dickman at 4:57 PM on April 29, 2006

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