What is Rhubarb in Baseball?

In the context of baseball, “Rhubarb” is a term used to describe a heated argument or brawl, typically between players, but it can also involve coaches, managers, and umpires. The term captures the essence of these often passionate and fiery disputes that can erupt over disagreements on plays, calls, or player behavior.

The origin of “Rhubarb” in baseball is a bit murky, but it’s believed to have been popularized by legendary baseball broadcaster Red Barber in the 1940s. Barber used the term to describe on-field arguments and skirmishes, likening them to the mixed-up, chaotic nature of a rhubarb plant.

Rhubarb in Action

To see “Rhubarb” in action, imagine a close play at home plate where the runner is called out, but he and his team believe he was safe. The disagreement escalates quickly, with the player, coach, and umpire engaging in a heated argument, voices raised and gestures emphatic.

A commentator covering the game might say, “And now we’ve got a real rhubarb at home plate. Both the manager and the player are giving the umpire a piece of their mind!” This use in a sentence demonstrates how the term is applied to describe the intense confrontations that can occur in the heat of the game.

While no one hopes for conflicts in baseball, “Rhubarb” adds a layer of character to the sport, reminding us of the passion and high stakes involved in every game. It’s a term that has endured through generations, epitomizing the fiery spirit and competitive nature inherent in baseball.