#99 - Eye On The Ball

Posted on Thursday, August 26th, 2021 at 8:48 am by LaLonde Jewelers

The English language has a lot of sayings and sometimes more than one meaning.

Take for instance the word Southpaw, the meaning I always knew was that it referred to a left-handed pitcher and the direction he faced because of the orientation of the ballparks. This was to ensure that the sun didn’t get into his eyes. Others claim it is a boxing term.

Then there is the “whole nine yards”. This as I know it, is the length of bullets that the gunners on WWII planes would shoot in their machine guns. “I gave them the whole nine yards”. Other people have different explanations for that.

Then there is “Eye on the Ball”, which a lot of folks attribute to sports like baseball, golf and tennis when they say, “keep your eye on the ball”.

Now, I learned this one has to do with a train wreck in Ohio on April 19th, 1891. A train from the east smashed into a train coming from the west. After an investigation it was determined that the conductors pocket watch had stopped for several minutes and the timing of the schedule was altered causing the crash.

A jeweler in Cleveland named Webster Clay Ball was given the task to figure a solution. After careful studies he came up with a new standard for pocket watches. These were called Railroad Watches and a few companies were granted contracts to supply these special watches. Usually having 19 or more jewels and adjusted for heat, temperature and position, reducing its ability to fail. All railroad strategic personal were required to have one of these watches. The Ball watch company made many of these works.

The people who were required to have these watches may or may not have been flush with money, so the critical part of the watch being the works could be cased in inexpensive gold-filled material or maybe an elaborate 18k casing. This is why a hundred years later when I come across a group of pocket watches each has to be examined carefully. You can’t judge a book by its cover. It could have railroad grade works.

So, whether you are a golfer, a baseball or tennis player, or a jeweler looking for a high-quality railroad watch, remember keep “your eye on the Ball”.

Written by Dan LaLonde, G.G., G.I.A.
Lalonde Jewelers & Gemologists
The Gem Expert