The Term Hat-Trick Comes from Cricket

July 22, 2011 at 3:00 am 3 comments

By Chad Upton | Editor

The term hat-trick is used in many sports to describe the act of performing three scoring moves in a game.

Although the term is more widely used in some sports than others, the term was first used in cricket, when HH Stephenson took three wickets in three balls in 1858 and was awarded a free hat.

In cricket, it’s considered a hat-trick when one bowler dismisses three batsmen in three consecutive tries. Besides cricket, the term is popular in football (soccer) and hockey too. In football and hockey, the three goals can be made at any point in the game by the same player, they need not be consecutive.

There are a few different accounts about how this term originated in hockey. The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto only recognizes one as the official story.

In 1946, Alex Kaleta, a Chicago Black Hawks forward entered a local shop to buy a new hat. It turned out he didn’t have enough money. The shop owner, Sammy Taft, made him a deal — if he scored three goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs that night, he could have the hat for free. Kaleta earned that hat by scoring four goals in that game. In hockey, hometeam fans often celebrate a hat-trick by throwing their own hats onto the ice.

Another legend states that it takes a bit of magic for one person to pull off three scoring actions and therefore, they are doing the equivalent of pulling a rabbit out of a magician’s hat.

The hat-trick concept also exists in bowling, although it’s called a “Turkey” in that case. That term dates back to a time when bowling alleys would present live turkeys to those who scored three consecutive strikes during Thanksgiving or Christmas.

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Image: David Kelleher (cc)

Sources: Wikipedia (Hat-trick, HH Stephenson, Strike Bowling)

Entry filed under: Sports. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Elbyron  |  July 22, 2011 at 11:30 am

    It may be worth pointing out that if the 3 goals happen to also be consecutive, then it’s typically referred to as a “natural hat trick”.
    Also, in hockey a player can achieve a “Gordie Howe hat trick” which involves getting a goal, an assist, and a fight in the same game. Because 3 goals is not a requirement, it is not a form of hat-trick, but rather a different form of achievement. It was (obviously) named after Gordie Howe, who was proficient at both scoring and fighting during his NHL career.

  • 2. Carl Olsen  |  July 27, 2011 at 4:09 am

    Elbryon, you took the words right out of my mouth! Any real hockey fan would know what a natural hat trick was, and most would know what a Gordie Howe hat trick was too.

  • 3. Frankie  |  October 3, 2011 at 9:21 am

    “The Biltmore Hat Company rewarded any player scoring three of more goals in one game the choice of hats at their factory, bringing new meaning to the term “hat trick.” Some sources credit this as the origin of the term.”


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