PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays won't be joining their expansion mate Diamondbacks in going retro this season by bringing back the bullpen cart.
The D-backs announced plans today, tying in the return of the cart – made by Tampa-based SportsKartz – with their 20th anniversary celebration.
"We have been working on this idea for several years and there's no more appropriate time to bring back the bullpen cart than this season, as we celebrate our 20th anniversary," said D-backs president & CEO Derrick Hall. "Fans of baseball in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s and even the 90s enjoyed watching their favorite players emerge from the bullpen in various vehicles and we're excited for this special delivery to come to Chase Field."
Not for lack of nostalgia or interest, but the Rays won't be adding a cart, primarily due to the logistics of having the bullpens along the sidelines at the Trop rather than beyond the outfield fences.
Here is more from the D-backs on their plans, which may or may not help with the effort to quicken pace of play.
For the Times' Craig Pittman, there is no better time of year than right now. #SpringTraining @TB_Times @craigtimes #Rays #Phillies #Cardinals #Tigers #Yankees #Braves #Mets #Orioles #GrapefruitLeague https://t.co/Dk5jmLZaLO— TampaBayTimesSports (@TBTimes_Sports) March 6, 2018
Baseball historians have tracked the use of a bullpen cart to 1950 when the Cleveland Indians first used a "little red wagon," while the first official entrance came in 1951 by the Chicago White Sox. The Oakland A's added one in 1955 and by the 1960s, the carts had become commonplace through Major League and Minor League Baseball.
The bullpen cart became part of professional baseball overseas, too, and is still used in some stadiums in Japan, the native country of D-backs reliever Yoshihisa Hirano.
The last known use of a motorized vehicle in Major League Baseball was in 1995 — three years before the D-backs' first season — when the Milwaukee Brewers utilized a motorcycle with a sidecar. Current D-backs bullpen coach Mike Fetters was Milwaukee's closer that season. A history of the bullpen cart can be found here.
The OnTrac bullpen cart is being fabricated by SportsKartz, a Tampa-based company. The D-backs will be the first club that SportsKartz has worked with after similar builds for two Minor League clubs.