“‘Bullpen’ refers to the area of a ‘bull’s pen’ where bulls are held before they are slaughtered — it’s a word with speciesist roots & we can do better than that,” PETA wrote on social media.
Their suggestion? Replace “bullpen” with “arm barn.”
“Words matter, and baseball ‘bullpens’ devalue talented players and mock the misery of sensitive animals,” said Tracy Reiman, the executive vice president of PETA, in a media release issued earlier this week. “PETA encourages Major League Baseball coaches, announcers, players, and fans to changeup their language and embrace the ‘arm barn’ instead.”
When it comes to the “bullpen,” there are a couple of different theories where the term came from.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest recorded use of “bullpen” in baseball is in a Cincinnati Enquirer article published on May 7, 1877. As writer O.P. Caylor noted in a game recap, “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.”
But as ESPN once noted, the earliest uses of “bullpen,” including the one above, referred to a “roped-off area in foul territory from where late arriving fans could watch the game.” The term “bullpen” came to be associated with relief pitchers around the turn of the century, when many outfield fences had advertisements for Bull Durham tobacco, another theory puts forth. The pitchers’ warm-up area was located near these fences, giving rise to a new usage of “bullpen,” ESPN explained of the theory.
In either case, “bullpen” has been used to refer to the relief pitching area (or a team’s relief pitchers) for the past century. But that doesn’t mean “arm barn” isn’t catching on.
New York Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier begged the MLB to “please name it this” on Twitter, and broadcasters for both ESPN and CBS Sports have used it — jokingly or not — when commenting the ongoing World Series.
“Astros going deep into the arm barn this game,” CBS Sports tweeted during Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night.