Animal rights organization PETA has called for Major League Baseball to "strike out" the word "bullpen" in favor of "arm barn" because, as the organization claims, the current term is a reference to a "holding area where terrified bulls are kept before slaughter."
"Words matter, and baseball ‘bullpens’ devalue talented players and mock the misery of sensitive animals," PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a press release. "PETA encourages Major League Baseball coaches, announcers, players, and fans to changeup their language and embrace the ‘arm barn’ instead."
“Bullpen” refers to the area of a “bull’s pen” where bulls are held before they are slaughtered—it’s a word with speciesist roots & we can do better than that.— Arm Barn (@peta) October 28, 2021
Switching to “arm barn” would be a home run for baseball fans, players, and animals ???? pic.twitter.com/2FzSpDG9mQ
PETA wrote in the press release that "cows are hung upside down and their throats are slit in the meat industry," further explaining that "gentle bulls are tormented into kicking and bucking by being electro-shocked or prodded—all are typically held in a 'bullpen' while they await their cruel fate."
The organization also highlighted that it does not support "speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview."
While there are multiple theories about why a bullpen in baseball is called just that, the most popular hypothesis for the term's origin in the game was used in a 1915 issue of Baseball Magazine, where it was described as the area pitchers warm up in, according to ESPN.
Then, at the turn of the century, most ballparks had large, bull-shaped Bull Durham tobacco billboards on the outfield wall. Relief pitchers would warm up in the shadow of the bull and the area later became the "bullpen."