NL owners supported the designated hitter in 1928

December 11th, 2016

How times have changed. Today the National League remains one of few leagues above the high school level not to employ the designated hitter rule. The Senior Circuit continues to resist the rule that the AL has embraced for more than four decades. That wasn’t always the case. National League president John Heydler proposed the DH at the Winter Meetings on December 11, 1928, referring to it as the “Ten-Man Team Rule”. Heydler’s motivations seem clear; he was looking to capture some of the excitement the homer-happy AL harnessed with the emergence of Babe Ruth. From 1920-1928 the Bambino had seven seasons with 40 or more homers, including four of 50 or more, and one with 60. During the same span Heydler’s league had only two 40-homer seasons with totals of 15, 21, 23, and 27 leading the league. While the NL couldn’t match the AL in star power, Heydler felt keeping hurlers on the hill and out of the batters box might generate more offense. “Pitchers are absolutely useless as batters nowadays,” Heydler was quoted as saying in the Chicago papers. “The average pitcher not only is helpless at bat, but when they happen to get to base they […]

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"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball…"

~Jacques Barzun, 1954