middle relief (1955), middle reliever (1961)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Wed Dec 1 04:00:34 UTC 2004

middle relief (OED3 draft entry has 1980):

   Wisconsin Rapids (Wisconsin) Daily Tribune, March 26, 1955, p. 6
   "Lane's relief work has been the most encouraging feature of
   our training season to date," said Manager Birdie Tebbets.
   "When training opened I figured Lane to be my middle relief
   pitcher. But on the strength of what he's done to date, I'd
   say at this time that he is going to be my No. 1 man."

   Coshocton (Ohio) Tribune, August 17, 1955, p. 9
   Feller, quite naturally, doesn't relish his current role as
   early and middle relief pitcher, the lowest rung on the
   pitching staff.

middle reliever (OED3 draft entry has 1981):

   New York Times, April 7, 1961, p. 35
   "One addition likely will be Jim Coates, who could be a starter
   now. But for the present I think he'll help us more as a middle

   New York Times, May 30, 1961, p. 11
   "So maybe a couple of weeks in the bullpen as middle reliever
   will help straighten him out."

   (Zanesville,  Ohio) Times Recorder, November 19, 1961, p. 4D
   "If one fails, Houk brings up a middle reliever to start. You are
   classified as a starter or a reliever and it's a competitive thing.
   "With Casey, everybody was everything. You never knew how to
   condition yourself. Starters should run a lot. Middle relievers
   run not quite so much."

--Ben Zimmer

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