On This Day in Baseball: The First Designated Hitter
The designated hitter was introduced into Major League Baseball in 1973 but who was the first player to officially play the position? That would be Ron Bloomberg of the New York Yankees on this day 47 years ago.
In Bloomberg's first plate appearance he walked with the bases loaded against Luis Tiant but the Red Sox would go onto win the game in blowout fashion 15-5.
Bloomberg played eight years of Major League Baseball, seven years for the New York Yankees (1969-1976) and one year for the Chicago White Sox (1977). He was a career .292 hitter with 52 home runs, 184 runs, and 224 RBI's.
Here's Bloomberg talking about the DH role via Joe Capozzi:
Now, how did the designated hitter come about? At a joint meeting back on January 11, 1973, that was located in Chicago both the National and American leagues in which commissioner Bowie Kuhn ran, the owners voted that they would allow the AL (which had fallen behind the NL in both scoring and attendance) to implement the designated hitter.
While the NL held steadfast on the old way of doing things, the AL felt it needed a change and therefore the two leagues would play using different rules for the first time in history. The DH actually began as a three-year experiment but then became a permanent fixture in the AL and later by all amateur and minor league teams.