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April 6: The Designated Hitter

April 6, 2013

blombergRon Blomberg of the New York Yankees became the first baseball player in history to appear as a designated hitter (DH) on this date in 1973. In a game at Boston's Fenway Park, Blomberg came up with bases loaded and was walked (by Luis Tiant). The bat Blomberg used is in Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame. He finished the season with a .329 average, 12 home runs, and 57 runs batted in; he had a lifetime batting average, in eight seasons, of .293, with 52 homers and 224 RBIs. The DH rule was adopted only by the American League; it permits one player in the lineup to bat without fielding, which means that the pitcher (usually the weakest hitter on a team) does not come to bat. The rule was intended to lessen the dominance of pitchers in the game by putting another strong batter into the line-up. It has also served to lengthen the careers of some older sluggers whose defensive capacities are diminished but are still dangerous at the plate. Blomberg managed the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox in the 2007 inaugural season of the Israel Baseball League and led the team to IBL Championship.

"To be able to play in front of 8 million Jews [in New York]! Can’t beat it. I lit everyone’s candles for every bar mitzvah in the city. It was like I was related to everyone. They named a sandwich after me at the Stage Deli!" —Ron Blomberg