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Around the MLB Horn

Origins of Baseball Terminology

Here I have compiled a list of things about baseball that I just recently had a great discussion about with other fans. While chasing baseballs around Safeco Field this year I have met and talked to a lot of interesting people at the games. Including security guards. I have learned from and educated many people so far this season and I'm sure a lot of you have done so as well. I have been involved in some very interesting and exciting conversations, contributed in some baseball trivia with other fans while waiting for the gates to open, and have talked a lot about controversial issues surrounding the Major Leagues.

The Bullpen. The origin of the term bullpen, as used in baseball, is debated, with no one theory holding unanimous, or even substantial, sway. The term first appeared in wide use shortly after the turn of the 20th century and has been used since in roughly its present meaning. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the earliest recorded use of "bullpen" in baseball is in a 1924 Chicago Tribune article from October 5. The earliest known usage of the term "bull pen" relating to an area of a baseball field is in a New York Times article from June 24, 1883. The earliest known relief pitching related usage of "bullpen" in the New York Times is in an article dated September 18, 1912.

The Rosin Bag. Rosin, also called colophony or Greek pitch (Pix gr?ca), is a solid form of resin obtained from pines and some other plants, mostly conifers, produced by heating fresh liquid resin to vaporize the volatile liquid terpene components. It is semi-transparent and varies in color from yellow to black. At room temperature rosin is brittle, but it melts at stove-top temperatures. It chiefly consists of different resin acids, especially abietic acid. The name, colophony or colophonia resina, comes from its origin in Colophon, an ancient Ionic city.

The Pitchers Rubber. In roughly the middle of the square, equidistant between first and third base, and a few feet closer to home plate than to second base, is a low artificial hill called the pitcher's mound. This is where the pitcher stands when throwing the pitch. Atop the mound is a white rubber slab, called the pitcher's plate. It measures 6 inches (15 cm) front-to-back and 2 feet (61 cm) across, the front of which is exactly 60 feet, 6 inches (18.4 m) from the rear point of home plate. This peculiar distance was set by the rulemakers in 1893.

The Knuckleball. The identity of the first pitcher to throw a knuckleball is uncertain, but it appears to have been developed in the early 20th century. Lew "Hicks" Moren [1906] of the Philadelphia Phillies was credited as its inventor. However, Eddie Cicotte apparently also came up with the pitch while at Indianapolis, and brought it to the major leagues two years later in 1908. Since Cicotte had a much more successful career (and also gained later notoriety as one of the players implicated in the Black Sox scandal), his name is the one most often associated with the invention of the pitch today.

Wayne Peck is a contributing columnist to and also maintains a Blog.

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