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Tales from The Baseball Thesaurus: Dugouts

Ballpark Digest squareWhen baseball first started, there were no dugouts—but by 1908, they became part of the game for an interesting reason, as Jesse Goldberg-Strassler explains in this week’s Tales from The Baseball Thesaurus.

Dugouts came to be for a simple reason: by putting the players lower than field level, fans sitting closest to the action, in the expensive seats, would have a better view of the game. Those early dugouts were basic, unlike the dugouts of today, which feature guard railings and screens to protect players from foul balls. And, as you might expect, players have bestowed a bevy of interesting monikers to these foul balls—heat-seeking missiles, ugly seekers—as well as to the players riding the pines, the benchwarmers.

Not every dugout is a true dugout. It wasn’t until after the Los Angeles Dodgers moved spring operations to Arizona that sheltered dugouts were installed at Holman Stadium in Dodgertown, the team’s long-time Florida spring home. Instead, players sat on ground-level benches—with Tommy Lasorda holding court at the end closest to the umps.

Goldberg-Strassler shares his insights on the colorful patois of America’s Pastime in this weekly podcast. You can find The Baseball Thesaurus at

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