On the eve of Game 3 of the World Series, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is making a pitch to MLB to change the name of “bullpen.”
PETA officials recommend that the enclosure that houses relief pitchers should be renamed the “arm barn,” the organization said in a news release.
“Strike out the word ‘bullpen,’ which references the holding area where terrified bulls are kept before slaughter, in favor of a more modern, animal-friendly term,” the news release stated.
“Words matter, and baseball ‘bullpens’ devalue talented players and mock the misery of sensitive animals,” Tracy Reiman, PETA’s executive vice president, said in a statement. “PETA encourages Major League Baseball coaches, announcers, players, and fans to ‘changeup’ their language and embrace the ‘arm barn’ instead.”
That might not be a good choice. PETA’s proposed new name would highlight the pitcher’s throwing appendage, but the Urban Dictionary defines “arm barn” as an obscene slang phrase.
The origin of the bullpen as a baseball term is hotly disputed.
The leading possibility is that Cincinnati sportswriter O.P. Caylor coined the term during an 1877 game story, Sports Illustrated reported. He wrote, “The bull-pen at the Cincinnati grounds with its ‘three for a quarter crowd’ has lost its usefulness. The bleacher boards just north of the old pavilion now holds the cheap crowd, which comes in at the end of the first inning on a discount.”
Baseball historian Paul Dickson, who wrote the 1989 book, “The Paul Dickson Baseball Dictionary,” devotes 2 1/2 pages to the definition of “bullpen.”
Dickson quotes a December 1915 article in Baseball magazine written by Edward J. Nichols as one of the earliest uses of the phrase as a place where relief pitchers resided. Dickson added that T.A. Dorgan, writing in the San Francisco Call and Post on June 7, 1917, stated that “I been out here in the bull pen all season warming up -- I ain’t been in one game yet.”
Dickson also quotes a humorous explanation from Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel, noted for his ability to fracture the English language.
Stengel told Joseph Durso of The New York Times in a 1967 article that the bullpen had more of a linguistic meaning.
“We used to have pitchers who could pitch 50 or 60 games a year and the extra pitchers would just sit around shooting the bull, and no manager wanted all that gabbing on the bench,” Stengel said. “So he put them in this kind of pen in the outfield to warm up, it looked like a place to keep cows or bulls.”
Other sources have claimed the origin of the bullpen nickname came from Bull Durham tobacco signs, which were apparently placed near the spot where relief pitchers warmed up, Dickson wrote.
PETA took a more serious stance, noting in its news release that “cows are hung upside down and their throats are slit in the meat industry, while in rodeos, gentle bulls are tormented into kicking and bucking by being electro-shocked or prodded -- all are typically held in a ‘bullpen’ while they await their cruel fate.”
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