Jan 11, 2023

The Designated Hitter Turns 50

Ron Blomberg
1988 Topps - Card #663
The first overall pick in the 1967 MLB draft made baseball history on April 6th, 1973 when he became the first player to record a plate appearance in a MLB game as a designated hitter.

The game took place at Fenway Park.  Luis Tiant started the game for the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees, and the night did not start off too well for him.  With two outs in the top of the first inning, he gave up a double to Yankees right fielder Matty Alou and walked both Bobby Murcer and Graig Nettles to load the bases.  In the first plate appearance taken by a designated hitter in a regular season game, Ron Blomberg drew a bases loaded walk to score the first run of the game.  Things didn't immediately get better for Tiant, because Felipe Alou came up next and hit a two run double that put the Red Sox down 3-0.

Despite the rough first inning, Luis Tiant would go on to pitch a complete game and get the win on the strength of the Red Sox offense.  They tagged the Yankees for 15 runs on 20 hits for the 15-5 victory on Opening Day of the 1973 season.

The Philadelphia Inquirer  (January 12, 1973)

The designated hitter rule is a half century old today.  It was adopted by the American League at a meeting of MLB owners that took place fifty years ago today on January 11th, 1973.  For the next 48 seasons, the DH was only a part of the American League.  It was finally adopted by the National League prior to the start of the 2022 season.