[Ads-l] "Boo bird" antedating (1933)

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 7 14:13:00 UTC 2015


I watched a lot of bad pro football last month on my way, ahem, to
becoming my league's fantasy football champion (thank you, blush).
So, I encountered at least a couple of instances of game announcers
using that old "boo birds" with regard to vocally displeased fans at
whatever stadium a team was imploding in.

Although the OED shares a sighting from 1971 as an early example of
this term, I see that Paul Dickson provides a 1947 usage from
Cleveland in his _The Dickson Baseball Dictionary_ (3rd edition, 2011,
p. 126).

Here are some still earlier appearances in reports on boxing,
baseball, and basketball.  It's of course likely that several of you
will find still earlier usages, in which case I'll do nothing but
cheer you on.

-- Bonnie

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Thus every time either guy would let a blow fall short -- and they
were constantly doing that -- you'd hear a ripe and raucous razzberry.
And for every harmless little clinch there was an accompaniment of boo
birds that threatened to unloose the roof and blast it skyward.  [From
James E. Doyle, "Boxing Board Stops Jones-Jeby Ballet; Rules Bout 'No
Contest' After Six Rounds When Clash of Champions Develops Into Tag
Game; 7,500 Boo Listless Milling," Cleveland Plain Dealer, 20 April
1933, p. 15; via genealogybank.com.]

Had Mr. Johnson's hunch failed to work, however, the twilight chorus
of the boo birds would have given him an All-American earache ... It's
a swell job -- some days.  [From James E. Doyle, "The Sport Trail,"
Cleveland Plain Dealer, 18 April 1934, p. 18; via genealogybank.com.
Doyle seems to be talking about a decision made by then-Indians
manager Walter Johnson.]

Only a couple weeks ago it was that the League Park boo birds were
getting set to ride that big Trosky kid.  They must ride somebody, of
course, when the home club doesn't win every day, and Willie
Knickerbocker having crossed 'em up by coming through, Hal Trosky
seemed to be the logical selection for saddling.  [From James E.
Doyle, "The Sport Trail," Cleveland Plain Dealer, 31 May 1934, p. 13.
"Boo birds" appears later in the column too.]

The boo birds are booin' in Cleveland.  Growing sentiment against
Walter Johnson, manager of the Indians, broke out wholeheartedly the
other day when, after the home club had twice come from behind to go
into the ninth with a one-run lead, six bases on balls, four with the
bases loaded, permitted the despised Yankees to walk off with the
game.  [From "Boo Birds Boo at Johnson," The Times Recorder
(Zanesville, Ohio), 18 July 1934, p. 8; via newspapers.com.]

Donie Bush perhaps has been the target of boo birds in more cities
than any other.  He's heard 'em in Chicago, Washington, Pittsburgh and
Cincinnati.  A pennant failed to silence the Pirate filberts when Bush
benched Kiki Cuyler.  [From Harry Grayson's "Anti Boo Bird Club
Perform Noble Work," The Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio), 23 July
1934, p. 8; via newspapers.com.]

"When it was time for Tunney and Dempsey to go on, Rickard was afraid
to walk down to the ringside.  Old Tedge believed he would hear the
boo birds sing, but he didn't.  They cheered him instead, but it was a
good thing for Tex that the boys in the suburbs of Fort Wayne couldn't
see Tunney and Dempsey, let alone him."  [From "By Harry Grayson,"
quoting Joe Boyton, The Jefferson City (Missouri) Post-Tribune, 23
July 1934, p. 5; via newspapers.com.]

It would seem that a good share of the Cuyahoga County customers
wouldn't like Johnson even though we were good.  Even the fact that he
has the young Indian club scrapping for the American League hasn't
silenced the boo birds.  [From "By Harry Grayson," The Pampa (Texas)
News, 18 June 1935, p. 6; via newspapers.com.]

Last week when Curt Miller went in as a pinch hitter and pitcher in
place of "Sody" Alviso when the Padres were playing the Flying A's
some of the boo-birds in the stands sounded off in approved Bronx
style.  [From Ben Black's "Sport Shots," The Santa Cruz (California)
Evening News, 3 August 1935, p. 5; via newspapers.com.]

Tommy Baker is one of our favorite officials but he missed one by a
mile last night.  Buchanan was breaking for the basket when Benedict
put on a brilliant piece of guarding, leaped high in the air and
knocked the ball from the Shelby man's hands.  Yet Baker fouled
Benedict and gave Buchanan two free throws, both of which he made ...
The local boo-birds sent up their largest wail of the season on this
foul.  [From Bill Hougland's "The Basketeer," The Rushville (Indiana)
Republican, 9 January 1936, p. 2; via newspapers.com.]

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