Bronx Cheer (1921)

“Princeton’s defeat by Annapolis is regretted here [in Chicago] as the Staggs say if they win in the East it won’t be held as such-a-much, whereas if Chicago loses the East will grin and give Western football the jolly old Bronx cheer.” Damon Runyon, United Press, “Chicago University Will Invade Princeton’s Lair,” Washington Post, October 19, 1921, p16. (Syndicated column appeared in many papers on this date.)

“While the crowd was giving vent to the Bronx cheer and hurling garlands of raspberries from the gallery, Paddy Mullins, manager of Wills, followed his man through the crowd telling all ‘He was way off tonight. He was way off.” Henry L. Farrell, United Press, “Harry Wills Made Bum Showing in Fight with Johnson Last Nite,” San Pedro Pilot, September 29, 1922, p4. (Syndicated story)

“There is a ghoul-like element in all baseball crowds. They tried to give Nehf the Bronx cheer when he started to slip in the sixth and then turned on Bush as soon as the Giants started to get to him.” Davis J. Walsh, International News Service, “World’s Series Comedy,” Minneapolis Star, October 5, 1922, p8 (Syndicated column also appeared elsewhere.)

Previous earliest use (Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2009):
1923.  “When Griffith, up again, flied to centre for the third out, the fans gave the Giants a hearty Bronx cheer.” (The New York Times, May 4, 1923; Barry Popik).

  • NOTE: Popik, in the 2009 Dictionary, is also cited as noting that the term appeared in the New York Times in a non-baseball context as early as 1904. That citation, however (“Bronx Cheers for Herrick” in an October 29th headline) uses “cheer” as a noun, not a verb,and actually refers to a rousing ovation given Judge D-Cady Herrick, Democratic nominee for governor of New York, at a meeting of the United German Democrats. The three 1920a sports examples above, from football, boxing, and baseball, are the first known appearances in print of “Bronx cheer” to mean a derisive “cheer”.