play ball with
play ball with (one)
1. Literally, to play baseball with, or throw a baseball back and forth with, one. Why don't you go out back and play ball with your son for a while? After spending a week in bed with the flu, Tommy was eager to go out and play ball with his friends.
2. To do what one wants or says; to cooperate with one. The prosecution is much more interested in bringing down your boss—if you play ball with them, they said they'll reduce your sentence from 15 years down to three. Just play ball with the kidnappers, and nobody will get hurt!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
play ball with someone
1. Lit. to toss a ball back and forth with someone. Carla is out playing ball with the little kids. Will you play ball with us?
2. Lit. to play baseball or some other team sport with someone. Do you want to play ball with our team? I decided I wouldn't play ball with the school team anymore.
3. Fig. to cooperate with someone. Why can't you guys play ball with us? Max won't play ball with the gang anymore.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
play ball with, to
To cooperate. The term apparently comes from baseball around the turn of the twentieth century. In baseball today, play ball simply means to start or continue playing the game. The with confers the idea of a team or cooperative effort. C. Terrett used the metaphor in Only Saps Work (1930): “The police are too dumb . . . to play ball with the hold-up mob.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer