1slang A row of prison cells in which condemned murderers or other violent criminals are held (originally that in the Tombs prison, New York City).
slang A group of powerful hitters batting in succession for a particular team (most notably the New York Yankees of the 1920s).
E. J. Nichols Baseball Terminol. (1939) refers to an occurrence of the term in 1858 (Spalding Collection, N.Y. Public Library). This occurrence has not been found.
3In extended use: an elite or notorious group.
Late 19th century; earliest use found in The New York Herald. From the genitive plural of murderer + row.