baseball parks and etymologies

Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Wed Jul 10 20:53:18 UTC 2002

"Baseball Parks" ((c) 2000), a show on the History Channel, part of the
series Modern Marvels, asserts the following [my notes in brackets].  Some
(but not all) of this has been noted before by Barry Popik and others.

red hot -- used by pioneering concessionaire Harry Stevens [1855-1934] of
his hot dogs in buns, said to emphasize the warmth of the hot dogs his
vendors served at New York's Polo Grounds [This is the old chestnut, already
widely challenged here and elsewhere, though oft repeated.  btw, OED has
1892 for _red hot_ 'hot dog'.  The show also relates the
dachshund/cartoonist story about _hot dog_.  For a rendition of the Michael
Quinion summary of the true and false etyms of _hot dog_, see]

stadium -- first applied to a baseball facility in the name Yankee Stadium
[opened 1923.  This may well be true; see OED at _stadium_ 2, which cites
the first use term for a general sports facility in 1901, at the
Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo]

skybox -- luxury enclosed seating, introduced for the Houston Astrodome [See
also next item.  MW has 1974 for _skybox_.  See for hearsay evidence that
suggests a 1965 date.  Also, Pres. G.W. Bush is quoted as saying that his
mother took him to the first game at the Astrodome in 1965, and said to him
at the time that she had seats called "skyboxes"; see]

Astroturf -- developed for the Astrodome [opened 1965, named to recognize
Houston's aerospace industry.  The team's name was changed then from the
Colt .45s to the Astros], which had a grass field at first.  The grass died
when the dome had to be covered with acrylic panels to reduce sun glare, and
artificial grass, dubbed Astroturf [developed by Monsanto], was then
installed [OED has 1966]

exploding scoreboard -- the Astrodome had one, with an artificial light and
sound show.  [Perhaps the first artificial one, but not the first.  Baseball
owner/promoter Bill Veeck had real fireworks for home runs at Chicago's
Comiskey Park.  He introduced this "exploding scoreboard" in 1960, after he
bought the White Sox.  Earlier, when he owned the Cleveland Indians
(1946-50), Veeck introduced the use of fireworks at major league baseball

OED does not have _skybox_ or _exploding scoreboard_

Frank Abate

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