The Designated hitter has been in baseball since 1973. It has been the source of much debate is it a position? He doesn’t take the field , but he bats 4 to 5 times a game. This has been the debate since Ron Blomberg came to bat as baseball’s first designated hitter.
Yes Ron Blomberg…
He was the first designated hitter in Major League Baseball history.
He made his major league debut on September 10, 1969. After going 3-for-6 in his first season, Blomberg was out in 1970 with injuries. In 1971, he hit .322 for the parent club in 199 at bats. In 1972, he hit a career-high 14 home runs and 22 doubles in 299 at bats.
Blomberg was the first major leaguer to play a game as a designated hitter. On April 6, 1973, at Fenway Park, he was walked by Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant with the bases loaded in his first plate appearance of the game. The bat Blomberg used is in Cooperstown’s Hall of Fame. In 1973, Blomberg finished with a healthy .329 average, .395 OBP, and .498 SLG in 301 at-bats. He hit .351 with runners in scoring position.
In 1974 he hit .311, and .338 with runners in scoring position. After this, his career was cut short by shoulder and knee injuries. A 1975 injury forced him to miss all but one game of the 1976 season. In the spring of 1977, Blomberg appeared ready to make the team again, but another injury, from running into the outfield wall, forced him to miss another year. “I had four knee and two shoulder injuries,” he said. Still, I gave 120 percent. I lived in Riverdale, and when I was injured, people came up to me and waved to me and hugged me.”
In a March 1977 spring training game in which he was put into the outfield, he tore his knee while chasing a fly ball. Out in 1977, he was granted free agency at the end of the season.
Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday salutes …Baseball’s first designated hitter…Ron Blomberg.