play ball with, to

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.
See also: ball, play

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.”
See also: ball, play