"Holy cow" was used in India, but the American phrase has been traced to at least 1913 (before both baseball announcers).
The Hawaiian theory of "holy cow" (given in the 1920 citation below) is speculative.
(Oxford English Dicitonary)
holy, a. (n.)
Used trivially: (a) with horror or the like (orig. U.S.), expressing intensity; (b) with unfavourable implication of piety or sanctimoniousness (colloq.); (c) used with a following word as an oath or expletive, as holy cow!, holy Moses!, holy smoke!
1942 BERREY & VAN DEN BARK Amer. Thes. Slang Â§194/6 Holy cow!
(New York Public Library catalog)
Title: O holy cow! : the selected verse of Phil Rizzuto / edited by Tom Peyer and Hart Seely : with an introduction by Roy Blount Jr.
Imprint Hopewell, NJ: Ecco Press, c1993.
(New York Public Library catalog)
Title: Holy cow! / by Harry Caray with Bob Verdi.
Imprint New York: Villard Books, 1989.
Wikipedia: Phil Rizzuto
Philip Francis Rizzuto (born September 25, 1916) is a former Major League Baseball player and radio/television sports announcer, known both for his skills as a player and his popular but idiosyncratic style as an announcer.
"The Scooter", as he is frequently nicknamed, is currently the oldest living member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rizzuto had long given his birth year as 1917, but admitted to sportswriter Bill Madden for the 2003 book Pride of October he had chopped a year off when signing with the Yankees, after other ballplayers told him it would give him an extra year at the end of his career.
After retiring, he served for 40 years broadcasting Yankee games on radio and television where, like Harry Caray, his popular catchphrase was "Holy Cow." Although Caray was using the phrase while Rizzuto was still playing, Rizzuto once claimed he'd been saying it earlier, as a suggestion of something to say instead of using profanity.
13 March 1913, Oakland (CA) Tribune, pg. 14:
Harry Wolverton assigned "Holy Cow" Peters to the job of umpiring one of the Regular-Yannigan contests at Marysville last week and Peters is still alive.
1 June 1914, Lincoln (Nebraska) Daily News, pg. 5A:
Denver fans have coined an imitation of Charley Mullen's pet expression. Instead of "holy cow," the bugs in the camp of the Bears yell "sacred bessie."
8 November 1917, Chicago Daily Tribune, pg. 6:
But, Holy Cow! WHY can't they print 'em right!
25 May 1919, Oakland (CA) Tribune, "Hank Gowdy is honored by the fans," pg. C11, col. 8:
"Holy cow! This is great!"
2 July 1919, Lowell (MA) Sun, second section, pg. 7:
Hank Gowdy's nearest approach to the use of profanity is the expression, "Holy cow."
5 November 1920, Los Angeles Times, pg. II4:
BY ARTHUR L. MacKAYE.
"O Holy Cow!" Over in the Territory of Hawaii "bone-dry" prohibition went into effect long before the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment, yet this mid-Pacific island Territory of the United States is probably the only place in the world today where one can accumulate a retroactive "jag" at a comparatively
reasonable price. This is accomplished through the medium of a native drink distilled from the root of the ti plant, which grows in the mountain valleys and is known as okolehao, but which the thousands of soldiers and sailors at Schofield Barracks, Fort Shafter and other military posts and at Pearl Harbor call "o
holy cow," or just plain "holy cow" for short."
"Holy cow" has a most unholy kick, and the beauty of it, according to the initiated, is that the imbiber can get drunker on this concoction for less money and in quicker time than with the help of almost any other known intoxicant in the world. Since the strict enforcement of prohibition in the islands scores of stills have sprung up in the hidden valleys of the mountains back of
Honolulu, as well as on other islands of the group, where this okolehao is distilled, mostly by Japanese, and commands a price of from $5 to $19 a gallon, according to circumstances and thirst.
One of the peculiar effects of the drinking of okolehao is the retroactive qualities of the drink. If a thirsty law-breaker proceeds to get drunk on distilled ti-root in the evening it is possible for him to wake up in the morning perfectly sober. But let him beware! If he drinks even so much as a glass of water before breakfast he immediately becomes drunk again. Sometimes three or four perfectly good jags will follow one original souse.
2 August 1959, New York Times, pg. X11:
Rizzuto -- Once a "Scooter," Now a Rooter
By RICHARD F. SHEPARD
"HOLY COW!", an innocuous euphemisms that gains import from the amazed tremolo with which it is delivered from the catbird seat in Yankee Stadium, is catching on with the fans. Now, how about that?
Well, it's fine with Phil Rizzuto, who has the exclusive broadcast right to it, if only by default.
9 November 1969, Washington Post, pg. 39:
Holy Cow, Caray!
1 April 1970, Los Angeles Times, pg. E2:
Holy Cow! Caray, Finley to Play
as Team for Upcoming Season
Typed DrawingWord Mark HOLY COW!
Goods and Services IC 042. US 100 101. G & S: bar and restaurant services.
FIRST USE: 19871021. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19871021
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 74635012
Filing Date February 9, 1995
Published for Opposition September 16, 1997
Registration Number 2216797
Registration Date January 12, 1999
Owner (REGISTRANT) Harry Caray, Ltd. CORPORATION ILLINOIS 180 East Pearson,
Unit 4101 Chicago ILLINOIS 60611
Attorney of Record Kenneth P. Taube
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Other Data Registration is limited to the area consisting of the states of
Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana,
Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan,
Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New
York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island,
South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West
Virginia, and Wisconsin. Concurrent use proceeding No. 1086 with Serial No.
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE
Word Mark HOLY COW
Goods and Services (EXPIRED) IC 005. US 018. G & S: VETERINARY MEDICINAL
PREPARATION FOR USE AS AN AID IN THE PREVENTION OF MASTITIS IN MILKING DAIRY
CATTLE. FIRST USE: 19640401. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19640401
Mark Drawing Code (5) WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS IN STYLIZED FORM
Serial Number 72203969
Filing Date October 14, 1964
Registration Number 0794342
Registration Date August 17, 1965
Owner (REGISTRANT) INTERSTATE INDUSTRIES, INC. CORPORATION MISSOURI , DOING
BUSINESS AS INTERSTATE CHEMICAL COMPANY 609 LIVESTOCK EXCHANGE BLDG. KANSAS
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Affidavit Text SECT 15.
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
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