I say nothing bold when I say that one of the most searing tragedies of modernity is the demise of the bullpen car. Once -- when we were a better people and this was a better land -- bullpen cars regularly ferried relievers to the mound and stood as a motorized testament to both team essence and America's industrial might. However, for reasons sufficient unto those corruptible ghouls in power, the bullpen car faded from sight, not unlike ancient scrawl upon papyrus.
In this space, though, we ride or die for the memory of the bullpen car. And to honor that memory, we'd like to pay homage to the bullpen car at its sky-scraping best.
As the estimable Paul Lukas discovered, the bullpen car dates back to 1950, when the Indians and their pioneering "little red auto" saved us all. In subsequent years, the bullpen car, in terms of conceptual design, could most often be described as "hat on wheels, automatic for the people." These two from the 1971 World Series blessedly typify the genre ...
And here's the Mets' bullpen car parked astride teenage-thunder rock and or roll music ...
One notable departure from the above protoypes was undertaken by the Yankees. The Yankees, you see, opted for a pinstriped Datsun -- colloquially known as "The Car of Step-Dads Who Keep Weed in the Garage." Here is that Datsun:
As the New York Times notes, the Yankee Datsun remained in service until rats -- Bronx rats, no less -- chewed up some vital mechanical components. There was, I suppose, no other way for that story to end.
Above all, though, the Mariners of the early 1980s took the models of the past and lifted them to Heaven above. Bear humbled witness:
(Thanks to @MLBCathedrals for tweeting out this image recently.)
Put that casserole dish of human endeavor in the Louvre, say the people.
Sadly, the "M.S. Relief" was woefully underused. In part because, as Corner of Edgar and Dave reminds us, M's closer Bill Caudill -- whose moderating instincts were such that he used to handcuff teammates to the bench for laughs -- hid the keys to the tugboat, which caused a brief delay to the start of the game on Opening Day 1982. Why he's not still in a super-max prison for this remains a mystery.
Alas and alack, the Tugboat That Built America is no longer with us, and the same goes for the bullpen cart as a species. The question, then, is not: Are you pouring one out for the bullpen car at this moment? Rather, the question is: Is there any chance you'll ever stop pouring one out for the bullpen car? The answer, it turns out, is no.