This is a list of objects in no particular order that define baseball’s history. They will encompass the entire history of the game up until 1994(The year they took the game away) and will be chosen due to their importance to the game, the fans, and me. I hope you enjoy the ride.
#13-Ron Blomberg 1st Designated Hitter
Love it or hate it(although you should love it) the designated hitter became a part of baseball on April 6, 1973. As usual the New York Yankees showed the way, when Ron Blomberg became the 1st official designated hitter to come to bat. The Yankees were visiting the Red Sox on opening day at Fenway and Blomberg was batting in the 6th slot in the Yankee order. With 2 outs Matty Alou doubled to center to extend the inning off Luis Tiant. Bobby Murcer, and Graig Nettles both walked to set the stage for baseball history. Ron Blomberg walked to drive in Matty Alou and the Designated Hitter Age began.
Unfortunately for the Yankees they ended up losing that came by a close score of 15-5. They would enact some revenge on the Red Sox by finishing in 4th place 9 games behind them and 17 games in back of the AL East leading Orioles.(Sometimes revenge is a dish best served while losing 82 games)
Blomberg finished the game 1-3, while the Red Sox’ DH, Orlando Cepeda went 0-6.
The 1st HR hit by a DH was hit by Tony Oliva, when he connected off Catfish Hunter on the same day.
The 1st player to play an entire 162 game season at DH was Rusty Staub while he was with Detroit in 1978. He hit .273 and drove in 121 runs. Le Grand Orange finished 5th in the MVP voting that season.
The 1976 World Series was the 1st to feature the DH. Dan Driessen of the Reds technically became the 1st DH to come to bat in a World Series. He took the 1st pitch he saw for a ball , then Tony Perez was thrown out stealing on the pitch. Lou Piniella got the 1st official at bat and base hit as a DH when he doubled off Don Gullett to lead off the 2nd inning.
Virtually every baseball league that matters on this planet uses the Designated Hitter. The National League and the Nippon Professional Baseball’s Central League are the only leagues of significance that eschew the DH.
I know a lot of baseball fans that hate the DH. Most of them are fans of a National League team. I understand team loyalty, but when I ask them why they don’t like the DH, they usually mumble something about strategy. I know that most of these guys marvel at the algorithmic complexities involved when Tony LaRussa bats his pitcher 8th. Or the sweet baseball science of the double switch. Or my all time favorite of having the pitcher lay down a sac bunt when there’s already an out. What great baseball mind came up with that. I love it when I hear an announcer say something like, “ Bob Wanksit needs to get on base here so that the pitcher Joe Wifsalot won’t leadoff next inning.” Ho hum, wake me when a real batter comes up.
What would happen if Major League baseball passed a rule that stated that any National League team could use a designated hitter if they want to? I wonder how many “purists’ will still bat their pitcher? “I know the other team is using the DH today, but I’m going to let my pitcher hit. I don’t want to miss out on a chance to use the old double switch.” Thank you Tony LaRussa.
Next season will mark the 40th anniversary of the DH. Here’s hoping the National League gets it’s head out of the 1960’s and joins the rest of the civilized world. Thank you Ron Blomberg for revolutionizing the game of baseball. You are a pioneering trendsetter worthy of being one of the 100 Objects of Baseball History.
Please feel free to leave a comment. Any dissenting opinions on the DH will be mocked and ridiculed for the mindless blather that they are.
Check out Objects 1-12 HERE