1973: Hisle Makes History

March 6, 1973

“It felt kind of weird sitting in the dugout while my teammates were on defense. I killed a lot of time by drinking a lot of water at the cooler and studying the Pittsburgh pitchers. I don’t think I’d like the job fulltime since I enjoy defense almost as much as hitting.”

-Larry Hisle

There had been some experiments with a hitter only position in baseball in 1969. Called DPH (designated pinch hitter) at the time, the experiment was dropped after a few weeks of trials in exhibition games. Four years later, however, the experiment returned, this time with the understanding that the designated hitter would be used in regular season American League games.

The exhibition opener between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Minnesota Twins was billed as the first game to use the new rule. Unfortunately, somehow the Pirates didn’t get the memo. When Pittsburgh manager Bill Virdon got wind of the plan to debut the DH in a game involving a National League team, he filed a protest, though quickly dropped it because the DH had been advertised for the game.

Initially the new rule seemed like a good one for the Twins, who got a pair of home runs and seven runs batted in out of Hisle. Since, however, the Twins have not had much notable production from the designated hitter position, as evidenced by the fact that the voting for the DH position on the All-Metrodome team came down to a guy who joined the team for three years at the tail end of his career and another guy who played just one season.

Despite his success in this pseudo-historic game, Hisle did not play designated hitter in a major league game until July 18, 1975. He did become a regular DH at the tail end of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers.

2 Responses to 1973: Hisle Makes History

  1. I enjoyed your piece on Larry Hisle! Not enough is written on him, on what a great Twin he was, or what a fine individual he was for me to watch as a kid!

  2. Scot says:

    He’s one that makes you wonder what could have been without injuries – though it was a bit later in his career, the torn rotator cuff came just as he was reaching his peak.

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