A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 15, 2015
“Leave everything on the field” (total effort)

To “leave everything on the court/ice/field” is to give total effort, to the point of exhaustion. Nothing is held in reserve for a future contest.

“It was evident the Giants had left it all on the field” was cited in print in 1961. “"After the game, if you can say that you left everything on the field and if you had it to do over again tomorrow, you couldn’t have done it any better —then and only then is there no disgrace in losing,” a high school football coach said in 1966. “"Our kids gave everything they had. They didn’t leave a thing off the field, they left it all on the field,” a college football coach said in 1969. The now-common expression is not known to have any particular author.


13 December 1961, Bristol (PA) Daily Courier, “Giants Fatigued After Important Win Over Eagles” by Murray Olderman, pg. 36, col. 4:
In the last seat of the last car. facing the receding tracks, defensive firebrand Dick Lynch snoozed, sitting straight up. It was evident the Giants had left it all on the field.

15 September 1966, Morris (IL) Daily Herald, “Morris Kickoff at Princeton Friday,” pg. 8, col. 1:
“After the game, if you can say that you left everything on the field and if you had it to do over again tomorrow, you couldn’t have done it any better —then and only then is there no disgrace in losing.”
(Morris Community High School head football coach Larry Kane.—ed.)

23 November 1969, Sunday Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), “Tiger Dressing Room,” pg. 12-C, col. 7:
“Our kids gave everything they had. They didn’t leave a thing off the field, they left it all on the field.”
(LSU head football coach Charles McClendon.—ed.)

16 October 1973, Boston (MA) Herald American, “Jackson’s Hour Long Day for Dallas” (UPI), pg. 23, col. 2:
“We wanted to win more than anything but we left everything on the field in Washington, particularly emotionally.”
(Dallas Cowboys Coach Tom Landry.—ed.)

4 November 1979, Seattle (WA) Times, “Huskers escape with eighth win,” pg. D12, col. 4:
“Our kids didn’t save anything. They left it all on the field. They played their hearts out. I don’t feel sorry for myself; I feel sorry for them.”
(Missouri head football coach Warren Powers.—ed.)

31 January 1982, Brownsville (TX) Herald, “Mike Woodall” by Jim Irish, pg. 5B, col. 3:
“He left everythong out there on the court,” Ortiz said about Woodall’s performance in the first game against Incarnate Word.

Google News Archive
17 December 1984, St. Petersburg (FL) Evening Independent, “Devils have ‘nothing to be ashamed of’” by Bob Chick, pg. 22-C, col. 1:
They had left everything on the field. And there was no more to give.

Google News Archive
31 March 1986, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, “NCAA Report: Louisville looks a little fresher” by Billy Packer, pt. 3, pg. 1, col. 2:
And Louisville didn’t have to play a game in which it had to leave everything on the court.

Google News Archive
10 September 1989, TimesDaily (Norhtwest AL), “Wright” I couldn’t believe it” by Mike Goens, pg. 9B, col. 3:
“The game was going to end there,” (Jimmy—ed.) Wright said. “Our kids had given everything they had. They had no more to give when they got to the dressing room. They had left everything on the field.”

Google New Archive
15 January 1991, Southeast Miussourian (Cape Girardeau, MO), “The latest Line” by Marty Mishow, pg. 1B, col. 6:
Even though Southeast lost to Central, I got goose bumps along press row watching the undermanned Otahkians leave everything on the court and very nearly upset the Jennies.

Google News Archive
21 April 1994, Victoria (TX) Advocate, ‘Thomas sees career end with injury,” pg. 2B, col. 1:
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—It was not the farewell Isiah Thomas had planned.
(...)
“Me, as an athlete and a basketball player, when it’s all said and done, I wanted to leave everything on the court,” he said.

Google News Archive
16 May 1994, Getysburg (PA) Times, “Caps beat Pens in OT” (AP), pg. 3B, col. 5:
“I think this was deserved victory,” coach Jim Schoenfeld said. “I think our players went out there with the attitude they were going to leave everything on the ice. With the big effort, we got a big win.”

Google News Archive
15 June 1998, The Argus-Press (Owosso, MI), “Three down, one to go for Wings” (AP), pg. 9, col. 3:
“It’s deflating,” Washington forward Craid Berube said. It’s do or die Tuesday. We have to go out and leave everythng on the ice. There’s nothing left to save it for.”

1 April 2002, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, “Lynx playoff push falls short of goal” by Bob Mueller, pg. 1C, col. 2:
They had left everything on the ice in the biggst game of the season. But in the end, they simply didn’t have enough.

English Idioms
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Leaving It All On The Field
This idiom, from professional sports, refers to exhausting all possible efforts to win, either individually or as a team.

Figuratively, this refers to leaving one’s sweat, blood, and tears on the playing field. This represents being sincere in one’s effort to achieve victory, but does not refer to cheating or other morally questionable methods. It refers simply to hard work and exertion.

Example: “In football, there is no shame in being defeated as long as you leave it all on the field.”
Posted by Jeremiah Bourque at 10:07 AM

Twitter
Michelle Frasch
‏@michelle785
@HoustonDash Good luck tonight! All I ask is that you fight like hell & leave everything on the field. Except the pts, pls bring those home.
10:03 AM - 12 Aug 2015

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Saturday, August 15, 2015 • Permalink