Clair: The life, death, and rebirth of the bullpen cart

From SABR member Michael Clair at’s Cut4 on February 2, 2018:

There is a piece of beloved baseball lore that’s been hiding in plain sight for 40 years: The bullpen cart. Those goofy, baseball-shaped carts that dominated baseball in the 1970s arrived with little fanfare and departed with even less. Somehow, despite peaking in significance during the rise of color television, there are large gaps in the history of the humorous buggies. And today, there exists a small band of believers who are doing their best to bring them back, no matter the odds.

Thanks to ESPN’s Paul Lukas, we know a little of their Roswell-like arrival to MLB. The Indians used a “little red wagon” as a kind of proto-cart to escort players to the mound in 1950, but the first official entrance-by-bullpen-cart was made by Marv Rotblatt in 1951 when his White Sox took on the Yankees. The move was lampooned by the New York media, with one report noting “Chicago is going bush. Just like Cleveland.” But clearly, the trend was already heating up. Despite the negative press attention, another car arrived later in that same series, but this time, it was for the Yankees. The car was a little different, too: It was a black hearse from a nearby funeral home. 

Either the White Sox provided it for the opposition as a kind of prank or, as White Sox team historian Jeff Szynal recalled, Casey Stengel “commissioned a sharp black Cadillac from a South Side funeral home for his pitchers. He did not want to be shown up by the White Sox.”

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Originally published: March 6, 2018. Last Updated: March 6, 2018.