One of my day jobs involves blogging for a Jewish themed website called Jew-ish.com. In that capacity, I wrote a post today inspired by Roger Angell about Getting off the Schneid.
The Rangers’ victory, Angell wrote, “took them off the schneid.” I’ve never understood this phrase. I like it. As a child, I liked hearing (Jewish) sportscaster Chris Berman draw it out like schneeeeiiiid on ESPN. And soon, I figured out its meaning by context. But I never knew where it came from. To a non-sports fan, to somebody who did not as a child watch hours upon hours SportsCenter, what the hell could a schneid possibly be? And how would one get off a schneid?
The term, it turns out, like many of our great expressions, has Yiddish roots. It came to baseball by way of gin rummy, a card game once popular amongst my grandparents. In Yiddish a “schneider” is a tailor. And in gin rummy slang, to be eliminated from a game is to “schneidered”—as in cut out from contention, the way a tailor cuts cloth.
Hence “the schneid” in baseball as a losing or winless streak. No word on which early 20th century sportswriter or p.r. man first used the term in the baseball sense, but our crack research staff is on it.