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trivia question re: bullpen (answered)

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trivia question re: bullpen (answered)

Postby Walden warriors » Sat Jan 18, 2003 11:37 pm

From where did the term "bullpen" originate?

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Postby trevisc » Sat Jan 18, 2003 11:59 pm

that is a mystery. No one knows for sure but here are the leading theories:

One of the mysteries of the game of baseball is the origin of the term bullpen, the name for the area in which relief pitchers warm up. Several competing theories, none with compelling evidence to support or refute them, vie for the origin. About all we know for sure is the earliest recorded use of the term to refer to the pitchers' warm-up area was not until 1915, in Baseball Magazine .
One theory is that around the turn of the century relievers would warm up near the outfield fence, where signs for Bull Durham Tobacco. The picture of the bull, associated with the pitchers, who were usually the largest and strongest members of the team, was enough to create the imagery for the term.

Another, perhaps somewhat more likely, theory comes not from the use of relievers, but rather from late-arriving fans. In the 1870s, and perhaps earlier, after the game had started tickets would be sold at a discount. These late arriving fans with cheap tickets would be herded into a roped-off, standing-room-only area in foul territory. Because the fans were herded in like cattle, the area was known as the bullpen. In 1877 the Cincinnati Enquirer used the term to describe this practice. The name for this area of foul territory stuck, and later when relief pitchers became part of the game, they used this area of foul territory to warm up. After that, the term bullpen stuck to relievers.

And yet another explanation, not even directly associated with baseball, may be the origin. The term bullpen was used as early as 1809 to refer to a stockade or jail. By 1903, O. Henry was using the term to refer to any waiting area. Perhaps the generic term for waiting area simply became a more specialized term when applied to the sport.

Almond suggests that the origin came because a pitcher who had been knocked out of the box had been "slaughtered," and that reliever was just another bull to be slaughtered too. This explanation seems to be a reach.

Finally, no less than Casey Stengel weighed in on the subject. Stengel claimed that it was called the bullpen because that is where pitchers would sit and shoot the bull. This is probably more indicative of Stengel's opinion of relief pitchers than of the term's origin.<br><br><span class=gensmall>Accepted as answer by Arlo on 15 Apr 2003 08:08 EST.</span>
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Postby yeyo44 » Tue Feb 04, 2003 12:32 pm

Again we go back to the early days of the game. Management was very concerned about the dangers of foul balls behind home plate because, although the game had been around for years, nobody had bothered to invent the backscreen just yet. Instead, four or five selected staff members would be seated in the stands behind the plate with ten foot poles that had nets attached to them. When a pop foul came back to that area, the "pole-sitters" (as they were called) would spring into action attempting to snare the misguided missiles, thereby protecting the patrons seated in that area (not to mention saving the club a baseball or two.) As one might guess, the proficiency of these low-pay, high-pressure positions left a great deal to be desired as spectators were frequently conked on the noggin and then carried out "cold" when the pole-sitters failed to do their job. (Those who guarded sections where fans were most likely to be nailed became known as "exit poles.")

When area politicians and civic leaders attended a game, club management didn't want to risk their safety and potential embarrassment on the accuracy of the pole-sitters. Instead, they sat them down the foul lines where the other pitchers warmed up. As you might guess, these dignitaries usually discussed anything but the game in their special section and the phrase "bull pen" became both common and appropriate
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Postby Arlo » Tue Apr 15, 2003 9:10 am

We'll probably never know the answer for certain, but both trevisc and yeyo44 put up solid theories which should be considered right answers. Since trevisc was first, however, I'll award the run to him.
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