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Baseball and rap music are often not considered culturally or historically synonymous, but a shift appears underway. This research examines how 239 rap lyrics reach across the formerly confined (mostly racialized) boundaries of baseball to engage the sport through its reference to 128 baseball players. A thematic analysis explores how the languages of baseball and rap culture intersect through linguistic translation. The authors develop a broad understanding of the positive and negative “baller” references, and how it could affect the future growth of baseball role models for Black youth athletes. Thus, baseball “text” as a source language translates to rap “text” as a target language to form a commonly constructed language at an intersection of music, sports, and masculinity.
Bell is with the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA. Kidd is with the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.