December 15, 2011

1928 Winter Meetings: NL Suggests DH, AL Says No

The Sporting News, December 20, 1928:
[National League] President [John] Heydler kicked up quite a discussion [at the winter meetings] by suggesting a modification to the playing rules which provided for a batter for the pitcher.

The substance of this amendment was not generally understood. It is the idea of President Heydler that if a manager wishes to make the choice of a batter to bat for his pitcher he may do so before the game begins, but if he names such a player, the player named may do nothing else, while the pitcher may remain in the game if this particular batter hits for him. The condition would resolve itself into a sort of tenth man who would step into the game to add spice and zest to it.

As President Heydler sees the modern baseball game there is a strange interlude when the pitcher comes to bat. Most of the pitchers can't hit the side of a hay stack with a snow shovel and the spectators sit back in calm resignation when they see such a pitcher slowly wander towards the plate. Now and then that type of pitcher does make a safe hit and win a ball game and the next morning the newspapers chronicle the fact in large, black letters.

If there is a pinch-batter for the pitcher, President Heydler thinks the dark cloud that fringes the silver lining will be removed and the fans will have as much opportunity to cheer and hurrah at the finish of the batting order as they have had at the beginning. Of course, if a manager wants a pitcher to go to bat that is something else and the pitcher will have a perfect right to go to bat. If the pitcher has nothing to do but pitch he will take good care of his arm and not bother about his legs which have not always been of much use to him.

The change would make a ten-man team imperative on some days. It would establish a new kind of record and might leave some pitchers without any batting average. It would also change the strategy of any game in which a manager was trying to force a pitcher out of the contest because the manager of an opposing team simply would not remove the pitcher as long as the pitcher could have someone to bat for him. ...

Members of the [American] League were reported not to be enthusiastic over the suggestion of President Heydler in the National League to supply a pinch-hitter for the pitcher. The suggestion, however, was not formally brought before the meeting and was discussed only in a casual way.
Since the AL introduced the DH in 1973, it has undergone an evolution in the World Series. There was no DH in the 1973, 1974, and 1975 World Series. From 1976-19845, it was used only in even numbered years. From 19856 to the present, the DH has been used in games played in American League parks.


Jere said...

The DH went to AL parks only starting in '86, not '85. ('85 WS was completely DH-free.) I'll never forget this since I remember being pissed going into the '86 WS, knowing that year was due to be an all-DH World Series, but they had changed the rule (before that season), so we only got it at Fenway. Yet another thing to blame us losing that WS on.

Amy said...

Thanks for digging that up! Just more proof that everything we think of as "new" and "modern" has probably been said or thought about long before our times. (I am not talking about scientific inventions or technology, obviously.)

allan said...

Connie Mack suggested a DH in 1906. I think that is the earliest mention.

allan said...

Just more proof that everything we think of as "new" and "modern" has probably been said or thought about long before our times.

Yep. 100 years ago, people bitched and moaned that pitchers couldn't hit, the games were too long, the players were paid too much, and all of the teams were going broke!

laura k said...

(I am not talking about scientific inventions or technology, obviously.)

And you know what? Everything that is said about technology has been said for every past technology too - flood of information, replacing face-to-face contact, ruining memory/concentration/ability to think, etc. etc. The technology is new, but the effects on us is not - there's just much more of it.