Tag Archives: designated hitter

April 6-THE DH IS BORN

1973 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK – The designated hitter was born on this date in 1973. The New York Yankees’ Ron Blomberg became the first major league baseball player to be in the starting lineup without playing in the field. He also became the first DH to reach base and drive in a run as Luis Tiant of the Boston Red Sox walked him with the bases loaded in the top of the first. Blomberg later singled.

The game changed significantly that day, many believe, for the worse. Hundreds of American League pitchers would go through entire careers without picking up a bat. Hundreds of designated hitters would seldom pick up a glove. The DH has since trickled down to amateur baseball. Many high school and college pitchers don’t bat.

Purists were, and remain, appalled for several reasons, the least of which being, baseball used to be one of the few sports that required every participant be able to do everything with some professional proficiency; run, hit, throw and catch.

Take the National Football League, an offensive tackle can make it to the NFL Hall of Fame without ever throwing a football in a game, or catching one for that matter. Dennis Rodman probably went whole NBA seasons without attempting a 3-pointer, let alone making one.

But supporters of the Designated Hitter say it initiated a re-birth of baseball. Attendance boomed until the players’ strike of 1994, and is on the rise again. Interestingly however, average attendance is higher in the National League, which has never had the DH, than the American League.

  • The DH was first suggested by the National League in 1928, but the American League rejected it [see Dec 12 story].

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
First Designated Hitters
A different way to look at the DH

Dec 12th in baseball history-LEAGUES FLIP OVER DH

1928 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – The designated hitter, that polarizing rule one league loves and the other hates, was initially suggested on this date in 1928, but the tables were most distinctly turned.

NL president John Heydler pushed the idea at the 1928 winter meetings in Chicago because, “the public has tired of the endless shifts in lineups due to the inability of pitchers to hit.”

American League owners got a big laugh from the idea suggested by the president of the National League – yes, the National League! “After laughing themselves sick,” Edward Burns wrote in the next day’s Chicago Daily Tribune, “the magnates went on record as being officially against the idea.” The idea was the designated hitter, the “DH,” although at the time it was referred to as the “Ten-Man Team” rule.

NL president John Heydler pushed the idea at the 1928 winter meetings in Chicago because, “the public has tired of the endless shifts in lineups due to the inability of pitchers to hit.” Heydler went on to tell his fellow owners, “The average pitcher not only is helpless at bat, but when they happen to get to base they are not inclined to run. They want to conserve their energy for pitching purposes.”

How ironic that 45 years later, in 1973, the American League would enact the DH and the National League would want nothing to do with it.

Contributing sources:
“Magnates give Heydler idea a great big laugh,” by Edward Burns, Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec. 13, 1928
“Heydler tells details of ‘Ten Man Team’ idea,” by Irving Vaughan, Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec. 15, 1928