Date: Sun, 18 Jan 1998 12:52:19 -0500 From: Alan Baragona Subject: Re: Baseball "Bugs" (an entomology) This makes me wonder if the title of the classic 1940's vintage Bugs Bunny cartoon "Baseball Bugs" is a pun on the old term. Would the animators remember a slang term in vogue in 1906? Did the term survive into the 20's or later, by any chance? And how nice to see a newspaper reference to Harry Steinfeldt, the answer to one of the chestnuts of baseball trivia questions! Alan B. Bapopik wrote: > > (This baseball bug "entomology" is presented as a lexical honor to 1997's > WOTY, "millennium bug." More bugs, perhaps, to follow.) > > Ren Mulford, Jr.--the same sportswriter who popularized the baseball > "fan"--also, twenty years later, popularized the baseball "bug." > Mulford was based in Cincinnati (the Red Stockings were baseball's first > "professional" team in 1869) and wrote for its local newspapers and for > SPORTING LIFE for almost forty years (about 1883 to 1920). He's not in the > Baseball Hall of Fame because he died before the Hall was created, and much > before sportswriters began to be honored (there is now a separate > sportswriters' award, but dead people don't have much of a lobby). > Recognition for his contributions to baseball's language is certainly long > overdue. Lack of recognition for a pioneer of American sportswriting > embarrasses the sportwriters' award itself. > The RHHDAS has a sporting "bug" from 1908. Paul Dickson's BASEBALL > DICTIONARY has it from 10 May 1907. > > 13 January 1906, SPORTING LIFE, pg. 7, col. 1. > A headline is "Some Tales Told at the Fan Club." No bugs yet. > > 27 January 1906, SPORTING LIFE, pg. 10, col. 1. > A headline is "TALES FOR FANS." Still no bugs. > > 3 March 1906, SPORTING LIFE, pg. 7, col. 1. > The headline is "BUCKEYE BUGS/ PLAY BASE BALL ON WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY." > The story begins "Cincinnati, O., February 24.--Buckeye base hits of the crop > of 1906--amateur caliber--were made during an abnormally warm January > afternoon, but on Washington's Birthday the first game of the comparatively > new year was played in the Bottoms by teams of youngsters. (...) The Reds > have always gone South earlier and returned home later than any other team, > but nobody has seen any champion flag floating over the Western avenue green > in consequenceof the extraordinary length of the periods of practice. As a > matter of fact, these "prep trips" are largely valuable along one line. They > are the swellest sort of "advertising campaign" and are worth every dollar > that is spent on them. When the robins begin to warble the "Bugs" find their > appetite for dope insatiable. They "eat" everything that is set before them > with an avidity that would be lost if the dishes were all "home cooking." > > 7 April 1906, SPORTING LIFE, pg. 13, col. 2. > "This weather is enough to frappe the enthusiasm of the Society of 32d > Degree Bugs, but they are all sufficiently thawed out to send a message of > cheer to Maryland." > > 19 May 1906, SPORTING LIFE, pg. 13, col. 1. > "Up Chicago way the Bugs are feeling very gay over the turn of Fortune's > wheel, which spilled Harry Steinfeldt into the West Side net." > > 2 June 1906, SPORTING LIFE, pg. 13, col. 1. > The headline is "REDS' CLIMB SONG/ CINCINNATI BUGS SIT UP AND NOTICE > THINGS." > > 6 October 1906, SPORTING LIFE, pg. 2, col. 1. > The headline is "THE OLD RED SONG/ ONCE MORE THE BUGS CHANT OF 'NEXT > YEAR.'" It begins: "Cincinnati, Sept. 29.--Editor--"Sporting Life."--In > another week those Redbird of ours will crawl into their hole for the winter. > Nothing, however, that Jack Frost has to offer in the shape of frost, ice or > snow can keep them from chirping hopefully "The Song of Next Year." It has > been heard often, but there's music in it that soothes the Bugs. No one has > the hardihood to put in any Red claim for glory in 1907. Fantown is still > dazed over the way Hope curled up this season. > > 26 January 1907, SPORTING LIFE, pg. 10, col. 1. > The headline is "A BUG CLUB TALE." > > There are many other citations, but not of interest. Mulford used both > "fan" and "bug" in 1906. I don't have an early citation of this that's close > to the first "bug," but he would often call the team the "Redbugs."