In the 1950s, Indians G.M. Hank Greenberg decided the best way to speed up ball games was to drive relievers in from the bullpen. Cleveland used a variety of cars, including a Nash Rambler that Greenberg once tried to give to pitcher Bob Lemon as a contract bonus. "Nah, I don't want that piece of junk," Lemon said.
That sentiment was echoed by pitchers in the 1970s and '80s when almost every team tried, often in vain, to motor in relievers. Back then some Cleveland pitchers would jog in while a coach drove the passengerless car (loaned by a sponsor) along the sidelines. In Seattle, embarrassed Mariners raced ahead of a tugboat-shaped cart—the brainchild of owner George Argyros. At least Argyros didn't go through with his idea of bringing pitchers in on a fire truck. (Get it? They're firemen.)
Many teams favored the eye-catching big-cap carts. "Those carts were good," says Angels manager Mike Scioscia, "because if a guy had a big head you'd say, 'Hey, they used your helmet for the top of the cart.' " In the 1970s you could see Mets closer Tug McGraw come bouncing out of a big-cap cart at Shea Stadium—and Yankees closer Goose Gossage exiting Toyotas onto the infield grass across town. In Gossage's fiercest years, the word was that when you heard the door slam, the game was over.
Bullpen transportation ended at Yankee Stadium when rats kept chewing through engine cables and fans pelted the car with trash. Elsewhere the vehicles just faded away. "They died out for different reasons in different cities," says Baseball Hall of Fame historian Russell Wolinsky, "but it was mainly because the players hated them."