The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 2005- » 2005 (January-February) » Archive through February 18, 2005 » Pizzazz of Jazz II: The Gin-i-ker « Previous Next »

Author Message
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Username: Dancas1

Post Number: 17
Registered: 01-2005
Posted on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 04:48 am:   Edit Post Print Post

The Pizzazz of Jazz:

On March 3, 1913 on the sports page of the San Francisco Bulletin, in a “Special Dispatch” from the San Francisco Seals baseball team’s training camp at Boyes Springs, California, just north of the city, Irish American sports reporter “Scoop” Gleeson used the hot new word “jazz” for what many scholars believe is the first time in the published history of the American language.

“McCarl has been heralded all along the line as a “busher,” but now it all develops that this dope is very much to the “jazz.” (SF Bulletin, Mar. 3, 1913, p. 13.)

What “Scoop” Gleeson is saying here – in early 20th century “slang” – is that local baseball experts, fans, and sports writers have spread the word that the new Seals’ rookie George McCarl is an inexperienced “bush leaguer” or rural amateur league player. "Scoop" Gleeson asserts that all this gossip (dope) is nothing but “the jazz,” meaning the excitement, heat, and “hot air” of a bogus rumor. Young George McCall, Scoops claims, is an “experienced player.”

Then three days later on March 6th, 1913, “Jazz” leaps into the lead of Scoop’s front page sports column, when he devotes three paragraphs to define this new and exciting word to his readers.

“Everybody has come back to the old town full of the old ‘jazz’ and they promise to knock the fans off their feet with their playing.

“What is the ‘jazz?’ Why it’s a little of the “old life,” the “gin-i-ker,” the “pep,” otherwise known as the enthusiasalum. A grain of “jazz” and you feel like going out and eating your way through “Twin Peaks.” It’s that spirit which makes ordinary players step around like Lajoies and Cobbs. The Seals have it and we venture to say that everybody in the big town who has ever stopped to “pan” the San Francisco club in the past several months will be innoculated with it by the time the coming string of games is over.

“‘Hap’ Hogan gave his men a couple of shots of ‘near-jazz’ last season and look what happened – the Tigers became the most ferocious set of tossers in the league. Now the Seals have happened upon great quantities of it in the quiet valley of Sonoma and they’re setting the countryside on fire.” (my italics)

So what did this new word “jazz” mean to Scoop Gleeson in March 1913? It certainly wasn’t music. The synonyms that Scoop used for "jazz" were "pep," the marvelous invented word "enthusiasalum," and "gin-i-ker," as well as "the old life" and "spirit." Well pep is hot like pepper and “enthusiasalum” is all enthusiasm and shows Scoop has got some linguistic "jazz."

But what does the mysterious synonym “gin-i-ker” mean? How are “great quantities of it in the quiet valley of Sonoma setting the countryside on fire”?

The answer is Irish.

Gin-i-ker is the phonetic representation of the Irish phrase tine a chur (pronounced gin-i-ker) and literally means ”to set fire,” as in he "set fire" to the baseball field with his hot play.

Jazz is Teas (pronounced jass) is the heat, passion, and excitement that happens when you “set fire” (tine a chur, pron. gin-i-ker, set fire) to Seals’ Stadium with your Teas, pronounced Jass, and meaning "heat, passion, spirit, excitement, enthusiasm." Jazz is Teas (jass) is heat. Whether hot musical jazz or the jazz of a double play.

Daniel Cassidy
Rough notes to a ragged tune
San Francisco


©Daltaí na Gaeilge