Tucked under the right-field seats at Fenway Park sits a forgotten piece of baseball history. The bullpen cart, used by the Red Sox to shuttle pitchers into the game in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, was restored for the 100th anniversary season at Fenway in 2012 and is on display near Gate B.
As a kid I remember thinking that it was absolutely absurd that players who were supposed to be physically fit actually needed a 250-foot ride from the bullpen to the front of the dugout before walking to the mound. And I wondered how little conversation took place during that 45-second drive along the right-field wall with cantankerous groundskeeper Joe Mooney behind the wheel.
In 1951, Chicago White Sox reliever Marv Rottblatt became the first pitcher to receive a ride in from the bullpen — in an actual car. Surprisingly, the advent of the bullpen cart occurred eight years before Bill Veeck, the unrivaled king of promotion and quirkiness, assumed control of the team and unveiled exploding scoreboards and Disco Demolition Night.
Nearly 45 years later, in 1995, the Milwaukee Brewers retired a Harley Davidson motorcycle – with sidecar for the incoming reliever to sit in — marking the end of a extraordinarily lazy era of baseball.
With a premium now placed on speeding up the pace of the game, longtime baseball writer Jerry Crasnick wonders if it’s time to bring back bullpen carts. Clearly, many fans would love to see it. In March, the bullpen cart used by the New York Mets during the 1967 season sold on eBay for a staggering $90,000.
At Fenway, however, there’s no indication that the converted golf cart will be transporting Koji Uehara in to close out a game any time soon.