The Faceoff: “Have” versus “Play” catch

"People from Queens to Westchester and Albany to Buffalo all agree the proper phrase is ‘play catch.'"

Matt Smith, Asst.Sports Editor | Erik Talbot, Asst.Sports Editor  

There is nothing better than a game of catch. Throwing a ball around is a game, and people play games. The proper term, therefore, for the game of throwing a ball around is "playing catch."

Think of the board game Monopoly; Monopoly is something people play. You can say "let's play Monopoly," but if you say "let's have a monopoly," that's something completely different.

Nothing against Long Island or its inhabitants, but the select few people we have heard use the phrase "have a catch" are Long Islanders. People – including college baseball players –from Queens to Westchester and Albany to Buffalo all agree the proper phrase is "play catch." So does the rest of the U.S.

"Play catch" is proper English. In citing examples of the proper usage of the word "catch," Merriam-Webster's dictionary uses the phrases "let's play a game of catch" and "she used to play catch with her dad."

Prior to a recent game, Mets third baseman David Wright was tossing a baseball around with a few young Braves fans. Every article about Wright's kind gesture was headlined, "David Wright plays catch."

So the next time you go out and have a fun game of catch, make sure you use the proper phrase: "play catch."

"You may play hopscotch, tag and Frisbee but you definitely do not play catch."

James Costanzo | Sports Editor  

Whether you believe it or not, to have a catch means more than just tossing a ball back and forth. Yes, I said, "have" a catch and yes, I am from Long Island, N.Y.

Believe me, if that's wrong then I don't want to be right.

Although I am from downstate, the debate has less to do with regional dialects and more to do with semantics. The fact is that catch is more than just a childhood game; it's an experience. Each game of catch holds a unique sight, smell and tempo. When two people have a catch they take their relationship to the next level – they bond.

Saying "have" adds meaning to what the two people are doing. Just think of things that people normally describe as "having": relationships, family and children, for example. All of these things hold some type of significance.

The alternative – to play catch – cheapens the act; you may play hopscotch, tag and Frisbee but you definitely do not play catch.

I realize that I am outnumbered in my assertion. Along with the majority of western and central New York – and perhaps the country – major media outlets such as ESPN insist on using the cheap alternative.

But then again, bias might as well be ESPN's middle name.

In the final scene of the classic baseball film Field of Dreams, protagonist Ray Kinsella asks his father if he wants to "have a catch." As you fight back tears watching father and son share a special moment together, I dare you to say that they are "playing" catch. It's impossible.

Games are meant to be played, but catches are most certainly meant to be had.