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First Designated Hitter, Ron Blomberg, April 6, 1973

The 1966 Yankees finished in last place so they had the first pick in the 1967 free agent draft. That selection was Ron Blomberg. He made his major league debut September 10, 1969 with three hits in six at-bats late in the season

Then on Opening Day April 6, 1973, he was on the scene ready to make baseball history at Fenway Park. Blomberg, who had played first base and the outfield but was now due to injuries limited in mobility, was baseball's first "Designated Pinch Hitter," the term used back then. 

"With Bobby Bonds in right field," Blomberg joked, "and three first basemen, I might as well have donated my glove to charity. I asked Ellie, (Howard) 'What do I do?,'" Blomberg said.  "He said 'The only thing you do is go take batting practice and just hit.' They announced the lineup. Bob Sheppard), he was great, a great voice up there, said 'Ron Blomberg, DH.'

"When it was my time to hit, the bases were loaded. I was batting sixth in the Yankee order against Luis Tiant. I walked and forced in a run. 

" I was left at first base, and I was going to stay there because normally that was my position. Elston said 'Come on back to the bench, you aren't supposed to stay out here.' I went back and said, 'What do I do?' He said, 'You just sit here with me.'

The brand new DH went 1-for-3 in the game, drove in a run and scored a run. After the game ended, Blomberg's bat was shipped off to the Baseball Hall of fame.  The DH was now a part of baseball history and baseball.
For the record the complete and original "designated hitter" list:

  • Baltimore, Terry Crowley

  • Boston, Orlando Cepeda

  • California, Tom McCraw

  • Chicago, Mike Andrews

  • Cleveland, John Ellis

  • Detroit, Gates Brown

  • Kansas City, Ed Kirkpatrick

  • Milwaukee, Ollie Brown

  • Minnesota, Tony Oliva

  • New York, Ron Blomberg

  • Oakland, Bill North

  • Texas, Rico Carty 


  • The Yankee box for that day:

    • Horace Clarke    2b    5    0    1    0

    • Roy White    lf    5    0    0    0

    • Matty Alou    rf    5    2    2    0

    • Bobby Murcer    cf    3    1    0    0

    • Graig Nettles    3b    2    2    1    2

    • Mel Stottlemyre    p    0    0    0    0

    • Lindy McDaniel    p    0    0    0    0

    • Casey Cox    p    0    0    0    0

    • Ron Blomberg    dh    3    0    1    1

    • Felipe Alou    1b    4    0    3    2

    • Thurman Munson    c    3    0    0    0

    • Gene Michael    ss    4    0      0    0


Rob Blomberg is remembered most of all as the first DH, (to bat), but he was a very talented athlete, slowed and hampered by injuries. His lifetime batting average is just below .300. When the Yankees made him the first overall pick in 1967, Blomberg had hundreds of scholarship offers to play football and basketball. "

"I went into the Hall of Fame through the back door," he said. Everywhere I go, people always talk about me being the first DH in baseball." 

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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