The designated hitter still remains a controversial topic, with fans either loving or hating the position. On this day in 1973, New York Yankees first baseman Ron Blomberg became the first designated hitter in MLB history.
Although the concept had been discussed since the middle of the 1900’s, when the great Connie Mack himself first proposed the idea, the designated hitter took a long time to come into existence. It was almost adopted in the 1920’s, but fell just short in the voting, and the idea was scrapped again. However, after pitching outright dominated the game in the 1960’s, and with the Year of the Pitcher in 1968, the MLB was determined to add more offense to the game.
After it was agreed that the American League would utilize the DH, it took until this day in 1973 for the rule to come into affect. And so, New York Yankees slugger Ron Blomberg became the first player to come to bat under the rule, as he made history as the first DH in a Major League contest.
The position paid immediate dividends for the Yankees. Blomberg came to bat with the bases loaded, and drew a walk in his first plate appearance. He would end up going 1-3 with that bases loaded walk as the Yankees fell 15-5 to the Red Sox.
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It was the perfect position for Blomberg. He was a tremendous slugger, but had problems staying healthy. He played in over 100 games just twice in his Major League career, doing so in 1972 and 1973. Spending most of the 1973 campaign as a DH, he produced one of his best seasons with the Yankees. In his 338 plate appearances, he produced a .329/.395/.498 batting line, hitting 12 homers and 13 doubles.
Unfortunately, he just could not stay healthy. He only had one more season with over 300 plate appearances, and appeared in just 35 Major League games in 1975 and 1976. He did have one more season in the Majors, appearing in 61 games with the White Sox in 1978, and he did hit five homers, but his career was over at just 29 years of age.
Although Ron Blomberg was unable to live up to his potential due to his injury issues, he still made history. On this day in 1973, the Yankees slugger became the first designated hitter in MLB history.