I’m familiar with the phrase “born with a silver spoon in the mouth” to refer to people with rich or privileged parents. But I heard a wonderful phrase the other night on TV that sent me scurrying to search. I thought I’d be offering a newly coined phrase, but I found it is well known from a Chicago Tribune interview with Barry Switzer, December 14, 1986. Although Switzer is a football coach, this is a baseball analogy:
Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple. wikiquote.org
There are earlier citations:
Texas politician Jim Hightower told the Democratic National Convention at Atlanta, Georgia, on July 19, 1988, about the Republican presidential candidate, George H. W. Bush: “He is a man who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.” barrypopik.com
But the earliest I saw, in a slightly different form, is from 1934
A genius is one who seems a wonder because he was born on third base. barrypopik.com
Since baseball’s been played in the US since 1791, and the “New York style” game played nationally since the Civil War, it’s no surprise to find a phrase coming from this sport.