Dear Mr. Baseball:Why (especially in the older parks) do...


May 26, 1994

Dear Mr. Baseball:

Why (especially in the older parks) do stadium backstops have the message "No Pepper Games" printed on them? Fear of lawsuits? Haven't gotten around to installing those nasty advertising billboards over them yet?

Michael R. Miller


Dear Michael R. Miller:

Thank you for phrasing your question in such a way that maybe thousands of lawyers and billboard paste-up people are sitting at breakfast now, sipping coffee and thinking of canceling their newspapers. Mr. Baseball will be in touch soon about a position on his staff.

On your behalf, Mr. Baseball contacted Orioles official Frank Robinson, an expert on baseball traditions. He mentioned a few reasons pepper signs are vanishing. He said pepper -- played with a batter and several fielders -- is in decline. Many of today's players don't know what it is. Therefore, few new ballparks go to the trouble of posting signs.

Years ago, Robinson said, players often played pepper behind home plate. The game could be dangerous for fans in the stands. It also irritated groundskeepers because the players chewed up the turf. Thus, signs.

Dear Mr. Baseball:

I have two questions: (1) How did the bullpen get its name? and (2) How many official baseballs are required to be on hand for any major-league game?

Steve Linhart

Glen Burnie

Dear Steve Linhart:

Reluctantly, Mr. Baseball must point out that you have asked two questions, exceeding by one a limit taken seriously around here. This time, you get four lashes with a bamboo cane. If you slip again, the sentence will be a subscription to Baseball Digest.

As it happens, you've come to the right place. Mr. Baseball knows that bullpens take their names from the "Bull Durham" tobacco ads that, in the old days, were plastered on walls near where pitchers took their warm-up pitches.

For the answer to your baseballs question, Mr. Baseball consulted American League umpiring director Marty Springstead, who said, for a single game, umpires have to have 60 balls on hand and, for a doubleheader, 96.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.