DH proposed… by the National League
DECEMBER 11, 1928
– In 2007, the National League steadfastly refuses to incorporate the Designated Hitter, while the American League is just as persistent in keeping it. Oddly enough, the National League proposed the idea first, and it was the American League that blocked its passage. On this date in 1928 National League president John Heydler suggested what the Associated Press called, “the most radical change in the rules of baseball since foul balls were made strikes.”
He proposed a player be designated to hit for the pitcher. Heydler’s goals were two-fold; conserve the pitcher’s energy for what he did best, and eliminate the spectacle of pitchers attempting something most were pathetic at – hitting.
Heydler wasn’t alone. He had the influential support of New York Giants manager John McGraw, and National League owners approved the idea at the 1928 winter meetings, but it didn’t happen. The American League rejected the idea at a joint meeting a few days later.
Jump almost fifty years forward, and this time the
AL proposes the DH, and the NL is opposed. The two leagues agreed to disagree. The American League has had the DH since 1973. The National League never changed the rule.
A side note – Back in the 1920’s, some must have thought designated hitters would only take the place of weak hitting pitchers. For example, the Associated Press wrote, “If the proposal put forward by President John A. Heydler is approved by the American league and the Rules Committee, weak hitting pitchers will become non-hitting pitchers.” The implication being, pitchers that aren’t weak hitters would continue to bat. There’s no way to know what would have happened back then had the DH been enacted, but today, it is unheard of for pitchers in the American League, no matter how well they can hit, to ever pick up a bat, unless they’re playing in a National League park.
, December 12, 1928
Why offense has increased: Part 2 – The Designated Hitter
, by Harold Friend