Hier der OED-Eintrag:
" b. A horse, athlete, etc. fraudulently substituted for another in a competition, esp. a more skilled competitor brought in to provide an unfair advantage or more advantageous odds. Also: a highly proficient person brought in to augment the powers of a group.
1885 Atchison (Kansas) Daily Globe 2 Oct. 1/6 A few weeks since Corum Young and Ernst Young put up $100 each on a horse race, and Corum Young claims that Ernst Young ‘run in a ringer’ on him and won his money.
1900 J. Scott Tales Colonial Turf 222 He fumed at being beaten..winding up his vituperation by saying that [the racehorse] was a ringer from Australia.
1928 E. Foy & A. F. Harlow Clowning through Life 188 We had scarcely made the match when we were given a secret tip that Bennett was a ‘ringer’.
1966 Listener 27 Oct. 613/3 He rode third in a regimental steeplechase: the winning horse was later found to be a ringer.
1973 B. Broadfoot Ten Lost Years xxi. 240 Some teams used to bring in ringers, a Yankee, or a guy from the East.
1980 Times 11 Mar. 6 The Crown claimed that the horse had been switched and that the winner was in fact a ‘ringer’, a more successful stablemate called Cobblers March.
1997 C. Butts Is Harry on Boat? (2001) iv. 101 The turnout for the football match was low. Apart from Brad, Greg, Mikey and Mario, the only clients willing to play were two of the Plymouth Possee. A few ringers were roped in, but the British Rail team still thrashed YF&S 6–2.
2006 R. Nerz Eat this Bk. i. 13 The local eaters were going up against professionals—‘ringers’ brought in from out of town."
Ich dachte immer, das hätte etwas damit zu tun, dass man diesen hochqualifizierten Ersatz durch einen Telefonanruf ins Spiel bringt. Aber der OED erklärt das anders (meine Hervorhebung):
" b. slang. To substitute one thing for another fraudulently and take the more valuable item. Now rare.
1786 Particulars Trials John Shepherd 8 To initiate him into the art of what that gentleman stiled ringing the changes; that is, ingeniously substituting a worse for a better article, and decamping without a discovery.
1819 J. H. Vaux New Vocab. Flash Lang. in Mem. Ringing the changes, is a fraud practised by smashers, who when they receive good money in change of a guinea, &c., ring in one or more pieces of base with great dexterity and then request the party to change them.
1859 J. C. Hotten Dict. Slang Ringing the Changes, changing bad money for good.
1875 Chambers's Jrnl. 67 The London news-boys..know how to ring the changes, and how to make old editions pass for new ones.
1926 E. Wallace Door with Seven Locks xii. 114 The art of ringing changes is to keep everything in sight.
1931 F. P. Wensley Detective Days xvi. 147 Even to this day ‘ringing the changes’ is sometimes practised, for there are still people who do not know how this hoary old fraud is carried out."