NEW YORK, NY – The year 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the Designated Hitter. It was at 1:53pm on April 6, 1973 when Ron Blomberg of the New York Yankees stepped to the plate to face the Boston Red Sox Luis Tiant. It was the top of the first inning and Blomberg, who was batting sixth in the order, drew a bases loaded walk.
In a game that consists of timing and luck, Tiant’s ineffectiveness in that first inning led to Blomberg being the first ever DH… If you ask Blomberg what he remembers most about that day it’ll probably be the deviled eggs he downed between innings. They were part of the team buffet and it’s detailed in Blomberg’s new book, The Captain & Me. It’s about his friendship with his teammate Thurman Munson.
Not only was Blomberg the first D.H., he was also the youngest one. At the age of 24 years/ 226 days, he edged out the Oakland A’s Bill North by 100 days. The oldest D.H. was in that same Fenway Park playing for the Red Sox. Orlando Cepeda was 35 years/201 days old. “The Baby Bull” ended Boston’s 15-5 victory going 0 for 6, while Blomberg was 1-3 with a walk and 1 run batted in.
It took Major League Baseball 49 years to finally give in and have the D.H. become adopted by the National League. Over the years the line of “tradition” was used as an excuse to let the pitchers bat in the N.L. The funny part about that is it was okay for the American League to play the National League in inter-league games. It was also okay to add extra playoff teams and naming it Wild Card. Let’s not forget changing the name of the Disabled List to Injured List. What about referring to the fans as guests? But they remained stubborn by having no D.H. in the National League, using the excuse of, “tradition.”
In its 50th year of the Designated Hitter, let’s see how MLB drops the ball once again and follows society’s way of Canceling Culture. I’ll offer them a little advice. On each team’s 2023 Opening Day they need to invite their teams first D.H. to throw out the first pitch. If that player is no longer with us, get his family on the mound.
The pioneers that played the game from the past are what made this game great. Names like Tony Oliva, Rico Carty, Jim Ray Hart, along with Terry Crowley, and Gates Brown among others are what kept the D.H. a strong force in the lineup. The new personnel that these teams hire are clueless about the greats from the past. The bottom line is they’re just not knowledgeable in the history of the game. Instead of admitting to that they’ll just use the played out line of, “Nobody cares!”