The Bad Thing About the DH

Major League Baseball has voted to add the Designated Hitter to the National League, starting this year. The DH has been in effect in the American League since 1975. The first DH was Ron Blomberg. He was recently interviewed about being a DH. In the interview he said the DH is now being used in Little League.

It has been said that baseball is a game that the more the viewer looks in, the more they find to look and see. But it appears the Major League Baseball owners think their fans are idiots. They assume that the fans are not entertained by the game.

Formerly, no music was played during batting practice. During the game the music was from an organ. In the quiet, the fans could talk to each other. They now play loud music from the opening gate to the end of the game. They show highlights from other games on the big scoreboard. They sell beer and hard liquor, and have a happy hour, with drinks at half price. They exhort the fans to stand up and yell.

When I was in my early thirties I tried to get friends to come out with me to hit baseballs. To do that requires lots of baseballs. A big bucketful is best. I was sitting in the bleachers during a game, when I heard a kid a couple of rows behind, who was selling baseballs for a buck each. I bought ten from him. I then asked him where he got them. He told me he would come to batting practice with his mitt, where he would make catches. After that, I began going to batting practice with my mitt. The only music was the crack of the bats, and the sound of the balls clanging off the bleacher seats.

At one game, in the Kingdome, Garth Iorge, of the Blue Jays, hit one into the stands on his last BP swing. I made a nice running catch. The ball had been hit on a line. As I made the catch, the fan said to me, “that was hit right to me.” I turned and said “All’s fair in love and war.” Oddly, he became one of my best friends. A few years later, against the Angels, a group of my friends were seated in left center. In the top of the ninth, trailing five to nothing, the Mariners mounted a rally. With two out, Jimmy Presley stepped up, and hit a ball right to me. I made the catch with a 1959 Mickey Mantle mitt. That night the footage was shown on the late news. A friend told me she watched me make the catch.

It was not long after that, to increase income, they took out the bleachers and added assigned seats. That ended the ability of fans to meet during batting practice and sit together later. It also made it possible to be running down a row after a ball, and bang one’s shins onto a seat that was down.

It would seem the owners and players didn’t consider the negative ramifications of their act. Now with the DH in all the kids’ leagues, those players who were DH would not learn to play defense. Only outstanding hitters are allowed to progress while being lousy fielders. For good hitters, the ability to also play the field, helps them advance to the majors. Now those DH kids, never playing the field, will be doomed to washout in the minors. It is a shame to think that.

Categories Sports

Dennis Nyback is a legendary independent film archivist and historian. Formerly of Seattle, he now resides in Portland, OR with his 13,000 film collection and a clear conscience.

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