August 23rd, 2011

August 23 – Happy Birthday Ron Blomberg

On April 6, 1973, Ron Blomberg came to the plate in the top of the first inning at Fenway Park with two outs and bases loaded during that year’s Yankee season opener and he was walked by the Red Sox’ Luis Tiant. “Boomer” thus became the very first designated hitter in Major League history. Blomberg, who was born on this date in 1948 in Atlanta, GA, might have been in the Hall of Fame today if there were no left handed pitchers in baseball. He hit over .300 against righties during his eight-year big league career and just .215 against southpaws. Unfortunately, a string of injuries limited him to one game of action during the Yankee’s 1976 AL Championship year and he was released by New York the following season.

On his Website, RonBlomberg.com, Boomer informs visitors that it was his boyhood dream to play baseball for the New York Yankees. He certainly had lot’s of options back then. According to his Wikipedia article, Blomberg is the only high school athlete ever selected to Parade Magazine’s High School All American Teams for the sports of baseball, football and basketball. When he graduated from high school in 1967, the Yankees made him their number 1 draft choice. Two years later, he was in the Bronx wearing pinstripes.

A dependable clutch hitter, I’ll always be convinced that Boomer would have been a key cog in the Yankee championship teams of the late seventies if he could have stayed healthy. He had a great eye at the plate and he didn’t strike out a lot. Being such a great athlete, you have to believe that given the opportunity, this guy could have learned to hit left-handers.

But Boomer just couldn’t stay off the DL. He had the knees of Mickey Mantle with chronically sore shoulders thrown in for good measure. Still, after the Yankees released him, he was able to secure a three-year , half-million dollar deal with the White Sox. His final big league season was 1978.

Blomberg shares his August 23rd birthday with this one-time Yankee catcher and the outfielder the Yanks traded to get Red Ruffing.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1969 NYY 4 7 6 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .571 .500 1.071
1971 NYY 64 216 199 30 64 6 2 7 31 2 14 23 .322 .363 .477 .840
1972 NYY 107 341 299 36 80 22 1 14 49 0 38 26 .268 .355 .488 .843
1973 NYY 100 338 301 45 99 13 1 12 57 2 34 25 .329 .395 .498 .893
1974 NYY 90 301 264 39 82 11 2 10 48 2 29 33 .311 .375 .481 .856
1975 NYY 34 119 106 18 27 8 2 4 17 0 13 10 .255 .336 .481 .817
1976 NYY 1 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
8 Yrs 461 1493 1333 184 391 67 8 52 224 6 140 134 .293 .360 .473 .832
NYY (7 yrs) 400 1324 1177 168 355 60 8 47 202 6 129 117 .302 .370 .486 .856
CHW (1 yr) 61 169 156 16 36 7 0 5 22 0 11 17 .231 .280 .372 .652
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/23/2013.