What does this phrase mean (not literally)? In what situations do you use it?
Thank you.
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A wild guess: You have to know what the persons in question have achieved before figuring them out?
Yes, but it is often applied more generally: you can't fully appreciate or understand a situation/event/place etc. without basic information about its nature/function/context etc.
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Is this an idiom or does it fall under another name, please?
I'd call it a proverb.
Thank you for the explanation.
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I'd call it an idiom, and I'd use it to describe a scene of confusion involving many different people, a scene in which something is being accomplished because the players know their roles thoroughly but in which the outsider is totally confused from his lack of understanding of the process.

It's possible that I've been using the expression incorrectly, of course.

so, is everyone here to young to know this came from old-time baseball?... here's how it started:

the folks way up in the bleachers were too far away to see the faces of the players, but because the numbers on their uniforms were readable from afar, they'd consult their scorecards to see who was who... the team was listed there by name and number...

btw, this is a nifty site... i just found it when googling to see when the saying first was used... and who coined it... anyone needs any help with writing of any kind is invited to drop me a line... i help and mentor aspiring writers of all breeds all over the world... for free...

thanks for letting me drop in!

love and hugs, maia
Maia, why don't you register and join the fun? Emotion: smile We help aspiring speakers as well as writers of English, native and otherwise, and I have a feeling you'd fit right in.
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