Today, the American League marks the 40th Anniversary of the initial regular season use of the Designated Hitter – a day of celebration or chagrin, depending on your stance on the issue. (Note: BBRT is not a big fan of the DH, but I’ve ranted about that often enough.)
A bit of trivia for you baseball history buffs. Ron Blomberg of the Yankees was the first player to officially come to the plate as a DH – as the Yanks faced off against the Boston Red Sox in Boston, on April 6, 1973. On the hill for the Red Sox was Louis Tiant, coming off a 15-6 season (with a league-low 1.91 ERA) in 1972) and on his way to 20 wins in 1973. Tiant, however, did not get off to a great start. That first inning – and Blomberg’s historic plate appearance – went like this. Yankee Second baseman Horace Clarke singled; center fielder Roy White struck out, with Clarke thrown out stealing; right fielder Matty Alou doubled; center fielder Bobby Murcer walked; third baseman Greg Nettles walked. This brought up MLB’s first DH in an historic spot, bases loaded, two outs. The result was a bit anticlimactic. Blomberg walked to force in a run.
Tiant did settle down, earning a complete-game, 15-5 win. As a DH, Blomberg added a single, going 1-for-3. His counterpart DH on the Red Sox – Orlando Cepeda – did not fare as well. Despite Boston’s 20-hit attack, Cepeda went 0-for-6, with two strikeouts. Thus began the era of the American League DH – still alive forty years later – much to BBRT’s chagrin.