Bring back the Mets’ bullpen cart

The starter is getting tired. The call goes out to the bullpen. Within ten minutes, the crowd sees the reliever making his way to the mound on foot.

But in the old days, relievers rode to the mound in the Bullpen Cart. Who remembers that? The cart’s top was a big Mets Cap. The sides were baseball bats, the rear were the seams of a baseball and the headlights were strategically placed within two fielder’s mitts.

Oh and Shea had one for the visitor’s, with a change of cap for each visiting team.

There is a reported incident at Shea Stadium that after the Mets won the division championship in 1986, Eric Bennett (a former stadium vendor) headed to the bullpen during the ensuing celebration on the field, hijacked the cart, and took it on a joyride around the outfield until the engine stalled.

Plenty of teams had them. What happened to them? I’ve seen two explanations:

1) Teams stopped using them because it promoted the wrong image: “We’re paying this guy how much and he has to get a ride to the pitching mound?”.

2) Teams stopped using them because of insurance considerations. There is a documented incident that ex-Phillie catcher, Mike Lieberthal re-injured a surgically repaired knee while stepping out of a cart in 2002. But that was a golf cart; not a bullpen cart. And he wasn’t a relief pitcher.

Where do we currently stand with the Bullpen Cart?:

1) There was a reappearance of the bullpen cart last year used for relievers during Sugar Land Skeeter (independent Atlantic League) games last year. People stood up; applauded and cheered at the sight of it. It runs on batteries, has leather seats and a sound system. It has a back-up camera and is air-conditioned.

2) The last major league appearance of a psuedo-cart was by the Brewers in 1995, when they shuttled relievers in with their Harley Davidson motorcycle and sidecar.

3) Golf carts are used during Spring Training.

4) Bullpen carts are used in Japan.

5) There is a report that a new prototype exists; called a baseball utility vehicle (called, BUV for short). Its got the hat and the bats BUT it doesn’t have the headlight/mitts.

Where do we go from here?

1) If anybody sees the Mets use a golf cart to bring in a reliever during Spring Training, let me know.

2) If anybody knows of another minor league team that uses a bullpen cart (its got to have the hat), let me know.

3) If anybody knows about an insurance clause that prevents a team from using a cart, let me know.

10 comments for “Bring back the Mets’ bullpen cart

  1. Steve Rogers
    May 5, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    As fun as it would be, there is always the chance, due to the cap on the top, to give more ammunition to the “The Mets are a joke, a major league franchise acting like an independent minor league organization with some of these hokey things” brigade.

  2. steevy
    May 5, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Will TC manage the bullpen better if they use the cart?

    • Name
      May 5, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      Perhaps we can also get a cart that ferries Terry Collins from the dugout to the pitcher’s mound. His legs must be awfully tired after every game because of all the pitching changes he makes.

  3. Chris F
    May 5, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Im not sure he could even manage the cart!

  4. May 6, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Don’t look now, but here comes Wheeler…

  5. Metstheory22
    May 6, 2013 at 10:11 am

    What was better than seeing Tug McGraw fling his glove out and step out of the cart to relief the starter in the 7th or 8th inning to pitch his 2 or 3 innings of relief.

  6. Jimo
    May 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Watching the pitcher come in from the pen was one of the thrills of the game.

  7. John Fitz
    May 6, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Jimbo

    I liked the bullpen cart. Thanks for the reminder. I never liked the Met Big Apple Home Run Hat. That was the ultimate in hokey and I never understood its relation to the Mets or NY

    Keep up the great work

    Does anyone still have their piece of the Met field grass from 69?

    • May 7, 2013 at 10:30 am

      John,

      In 1979, the Mets were owned by the Payson family. Shea Stadium was dull, drab & colorless.

      In 1980, the team was sold to Nelson Doubleday/Fred Wilpon. They hired an advertising agency who came up with the slogan “The Magic Is Back,” to evoke the Miracle of ’69, the surprise pennant of ’73 and the never-say-die pluckiness of the remaining fans. They also gave Shea a few fresh coats of paint, new scoreboards, a general spruce-up.

      In 1981, combining the 2 elements, they installed the Home Run apple. It was supposed to be coming out of a top hat — like a magician’s rabbit, for the Magic that was Back, in New York, aka the Big Apple. Get it now?

      • Chris F
        May 7, 2013 at 11:02 am

        I loved the panels! I tough way better than the neon and blue immersion.

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