pinch hitter

Baseball. a substitute who bats for a teammate, often at a critical moment of the game.
any substitute for another, especially in an emergency.

1910–15, Americanism Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
vb , -hits, -hitting, -hit
1.  baseball to bat as a substitute for the scheduled batter
2.  informal (US), (Canadian) to act as a substitute
3.  cricket (of a batsman in a limited-overs match) to bat aggressively at the start of an innings in order to take advantage of fielding restrictions
pinch hitter

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

pinch hitter

A substitute for another person, especially in an emergency. For example, Pat expected her mother to help with the baby, but just in case, she lined up her mother-in-law as pinch hitter. This expression comes from baseball, where it is used for a player substituting for another at bat at a critical point or in a tight situation (called a pinch since the late 1400s). [Late 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Claimant testified he had played softball in jail but was unable to swing a bat and had to have a pinch hitter.
He has been used in the role of a pinch hitter and he has filled it with great success.
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