In 1973, former first-baseman Ron Blomberg accidentally made baseball history. Ron Blomberg tuned-in with WRUF’s Steve Russell to talk about the impact of the designated hitter on the game of baseball.
Blomberg was drafted first overall by the Yankees in 1967. Atop of an offer to play collegiate football under Paul “Bear” Bryant at the University of Alabama, he opted for the MLB.
After pulling his hamstring in a 1973 spring training session, Blomberg expected to be out of the opening day lineup later that week. When the lineup sheet was posted, the letters “DH” were sketched out next to his name. Blomberg served at bat in place of their pitcher at the time.
Following the injured Blomberg’s debut as a designated hitter, the American League adopted the DH as an eligible position. From that day on, the concept of a designated pitcher has engraved its presence in baseball across all levels. “It was the change of an era,” says Blomberg.
Through the collective bargaining agreement in 2022 the National League finally adopted the DH after nearly 50 years.
Blomberg goes on to discuss the DH’s impact on the sport of baseball as a whole.
Many teams utilize a DH in different ways. Similar to how Blomberg first filled the position, some players will become a DH to replace the pitcher in batting order. Yet, others may take this position as a means of rest from defensive play. Now, the DH is eligible in all facets of the MLB and gives teams an opportunity to make offensive play consistent and exciting.
Blomberg speaks on his initial perspective, “I looked at it as a gimmick. I never thought the DH was going to be around six months. Now look at it. It’s the 50th year of the DH now.”
74-year-old Blomberg has been honored by the Yankees and will throw the first pitch in their Monday contest against the Phillies. Monday marks the 50th anniversary of Blomberg’s historic game at-bat and he will celebrate it back in Yankee Stadium.
Blomberg expresses his appreciation for the Yankees team, “They really make it really a big deal.”