This Day in Yankees History: April 6, 1973: Yankees’ Ron Blomberg becomes the first American League designated hitter

Photo Credit: Newsday

The designated hitter didn’t make its debut across Major League Baseball until 1973.  However, the idea was in the works since 1900 when Connie Mack first proposed it.  After a failed attempt at a vote in the 1920s, the DH rule finally passed in the 1960s, but took until 1973 to actually be brought into play.

47 years ago today, the Yankees became the first-ever MLB team to send a DH to the batter’s box.  Ron Blomberg took his place as MLB’s, and the Yankees’, first DH.

During the 1970s, Blomberg was widely-known as the “great Jewish hope” of the Yankees and of Major League Baseball.  He made his debut with the Yankees in September, 1969, after being drafted to the Yankees in the 1967 MLB Draft.  While he entered the league touted as the “Next Mickey Mantle,” Blomberg faced rejection and vast anti-Semitism across MLB due to his Jewish faith and heritage.  His own teammates and Yankees fans taunted and rejected him.

In addition to playing in the DH spot, Blomberg played at 1B and RF.  Save for playing for the Chicago White Sox in his final season in MLB in 1978, he played for the Yanks for almost his entire career.  Lifetime, Blomberg hit .293, with 391 total hits, 184 runs, six stolen bases, 52 home runs and 224 RBIs. 

Blomberg’s 1973 season -- which he spent most of as DH -- was his best career season, with a .329 batting average, 12 home runs and 57 RBIs.  He was the perfect DH candidate as his strength was in his hitting, and Blomberg had difficulties staying healthy – only recording 100 game appearances in the 1972 season prior to his DH debut.

Article by: Mary Grace Donaldsona


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