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A Brief History of Baseball’s Bullpen Cart

They see me rollin…

There is truly something mystical about baseball. From the crack of the bat to the high, arching flight of a home run to the smells of hot dogs and cheap brewskis, there is truly nothing more American (except maybe Honey Boo-Boo). But what if there was a way for baseball teams to more fully embody the American spirit? It turns out there is, and it’s nothing new. This week, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced the return of the Bullpen Cart. What is the Bullpen Cart? Take a looksie:

That’s right. Just three decades ago, many MLB teams used a golf cart, often outfitted with a cap and baseball shell, to carry pitchers from the bullpen to the infield. In recent years, many people, including the staff here at Salute, have seen those relievers, after completing their warm-ups, take that seemingly endless jog from the bullpen to the infield. How can anyone expect a man to adequately locate a 95 MPH fastball when he’s dry-heaving after a 200 foot jog? Answer: they can’t.

The carts first made their appearance shortly after WWII, and very few teams used them at first. Teams would often stop using them because fans, being the adorable Americans they are, would target the carts with all sorts of concessions goodies and beverages.

Most teams used a golf cart turned into a sort of baseball-themed bumper car, but other teams got more creative/luxurious. The Seattle Mariners crafted a tugboat to bring in relief pitchers. The White Sox used a Chrysler LeBaron, and the Yankees brought their spare arms the distance in a Datsun. That might be the most 1970s sentence ever written.

 

mariners-tugboat

After about the 1980s, the bullpen cart died off. Pitchers have been forced to not only toil away in the outer reaches of the park, but they have also been responsible for their own transportation to the mound. No more. In a beautiful and inspired move, the Arizona Diamondbacks have announced the revival of the bullpen cart. Not only will pitchers now be able to play America’s pastime, they’ll do it with a level of luxury and slothfulness unmatched by the outside world.

Here’s to hoping every other team follows suit, tugboat and all.

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