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Bull pen

Posted by ESC on June 27, 2000

In Reply to: Pitchers Bullpen posted by Chuck Yoder on June 25, 2000

: What is the origin of the word bullpen, which is used for the holding area for pitchers in a baseball park?

BULL PEN - "There are a lot of theories about the origin of 'bull pen,' - including the obvious one based on the resemblance between the cages where relief pitchers warm up and the enclosures where bulls are kept before being sent charging into the bull ring. However, we discussed this some years ago with our friend Moe Berg, the only life member of the Linguistic Society of America ever to play big-league ball. Matter of fact, Moe played fifteen seasons in the majors, mostly in the American League, winding up with the Boston Red Sox in the late 1930s, when he doubled in brass as a panelist on the 'Information, Please' radio show.We go into all this background to show that it's safe to say that Moe spent more time in 'bull pens' than any other catcher of his era. As a brilliant student of language (a Princeton Ph.D.), he had plenty of time to think about the origin of the name 'bull pen' while he was warming up the second-string pitchers. It was Moe's conclusion that none of the highfalutin theories of the word's origin was even close to the mark. The true explanation, he told us, is that in baseball's early days the bull pen was usually located in left field and standard equipment in ball parks of the period was a large billboard on the left field fence advertising Bull Durham tobacco." "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).