The day the DH was born – January 11, 1973

After a seven-hour meeting in the Lancaster Room of the Sheraton-O’Hare Motor Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, American League owners voted 8-4 for something they called the “designated pinch hitter for the pitcher,” or DPH, an abbreviation quickly modified to DH. I asked Clark Griffith how the Twins voted and here is what he had to say. “The Twins voted for it and I think that was a mistake. The vote was based on having Killebrew and Oliva for DH. I was involved in the drafting of the rule and after the vote it occurred to me that we used the wrong statistic to support it. The stat used was pitcher BA v. hitters BA and it should have been pitchers and those who hit for pitchers v. other batters. In essence, that means measuring the ninth hitter with all others. The effect of not removing a pitcher for a PH was not considered either. The DH is a horrible rule that should be allowed to go away. I love reading NL box scores for their complexity.”

From what I can determine, Charlie Finley, former Oakland Athletics owner, is generally credited with leading the push for the DH in 1973. He was strongly supported by American League President Joe Cronin and owners Nick Mileti (Cleveland), Jerry Hoffberger (Baltimore), John Allyn (Chicago) and Bob Short (Texas). John Fetzer (Detroit), Bud Selig (Milwaukee) and Calvin Griffith (Minnesota) would make 8 votes in favor with Boston, New York, Kansas City and California voting against the DH.

 

Current rules for the DH

A hitter may be designated to bat for the starting pitcher and all subsequent pitchers in any game without otherwise affecting the status of the pitcher(s) in the game. A Designated Hitter for the pitcher must be selected prior to the game and must be included in the lineup cards presented to the Umpire-in-Chief.

The Designated Hitter named in the starting lineup must come to bat at least one time, unless the opposing club changes pitchers. It is not mandatory that a club designate a hitter for the pitcher, but failure to do so prior to the game precludes the use of a Designated Hitter for that game.

Pinch hitters for a Designated Hitter may be used. Any substitute hitter for a Designated Hitter himself becomes a Designated Hitter. A replaced Designated Hitter shall not re-enter the game in any capacity. The Designated Hitter may be used defensively, continuing to bat in the same position in the batting order, but the pitcher must then bat in the place of the substituted defensive player, unless more than one substitution is made, and the manager then must designate their spots in the batting order.

A runner may be substituted for the Designated Hitter and the runner assumes the role of the Designated Hitter.

A Designated Hitter is “locked” into the batting order. No multiple substitutions may be made that will alter the batting rotation of the Designated Hitter.

Once the game pitcher is switched from the mound to a defensive position this move shall terminate the DH role for the remainder of the game. Once a pinch-hitter bats for any player in the batting order and then enters the game to pitch, this move shall terminate the Designated Hitter role for the remainder of the game.

Once a Designated Hitter assumes a defensive position this move shall terminate the Designated Hitter role for the remainder of the game.

At first, the designated hitter rule did not apply to any games in the World Series, in which the AL and NL winners met for the world championship. From 1976-1985, it applied only to Series held in even-numbered years, and in 1986 the current rule took effect, according to which the designated hitter rule is used or not used according to the practice of the home team. The list below shows the career numbers for players that played at least 50% of their games at DH.

Rk Player G From To Age AB R H HR RBI BA
1 Harold Baines 2830 1980 2001 21-42 9908 1299 2866 384 1628 .289
2 Frank Thomas 2322 1990 2008 22-40 8199 1494 2468 521 1704 .301
3 Don Baylor 2292 1970 1988 21-39 8198 1236 2135 338 1276 .260
4 Edgar Martinez 2055 1987 2004 24-41 7213 1219 2247 309 1261 .312
5 David Ortiz 1969 1997 2013 21-37 7057 1208 2023 431 1429 .287
6 Hal McRae 1837 1973 1987 27-41 6568 873 1924 169 1012 .293
7 Chili Davis 1562 1988 1999 28-39 5525 808 1540 249 954 .279
8 Andre Thornton 1225 1977 1987 27-37 4313 650 1095 214 749 .254
9 Travis Hafner 1183 2002 2013 25-36 4058 619 1107 213 731 .273
10 Billy Butler 1015 2007 2013 21-27 3768 445 1124 118 562 .298
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/5/2014.
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The list below shows the numbers for Twins players that played at least 50% of their games at DH.

Rk Player G From To Age AB R H HR RBI BA
1 Glenn Adams 501 1977 1981 29-33 1387 138 390 29 196 .281
2 David Ortiz 455 1997 2002 21-26 1477 215 393 58 238 .266
3 Paul Molitor 422 1996 1998 39-41 1700 237 530 23 271 .312
4 Chili Davis 291 1991 1992 31-32 978 147 276 41 159 .282
5 Jose Morales 290 1978 1980 33-35 674 79 200 12 101 .297
6 Dave Winfield 220 1993 1994 41-42 841 107 222 31 119 .264
7 Jim Thome 179 2010 2011 39-40 482 69 128 37 99 .266
8 Danny Goodwin 172 1979 1981 25-27 425 52 103 8 55 .242
9 Jim Dwyer 145 1988 1990 38-40 329 47 95 6 43 .289
10 Rondell White 137 2006 2007 34-35 446 40 102 11 58 .229
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/5/2014.
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