Looking back at Ron Blomberg as MLB ponders DH in National League

1973-topps-ron-blombergYou probably don’t know the name Ron Blomberg, but he was the first-overall pick in the 1967 MLB Draft and a big-leaguer for parts of eight seasons with the Yankees and White Sox.

But if you do know his name it’s probably because of one thing — he was the first designated hitter in MLB history.

Could there be more hitting history made soon? Perhaps with the MLB owners’ meetings this week in Florida where the owners are considering adopting the DH in the National League as soon as next season. Such a change wouldn’t be possible without the approval of the MLBPA but it still could happen.

ron-blomberg-elite-autoOn Opening Day in 1973 against the Boston Red Sox, Blomberg made history as the first DH. He was sixth in the lineup that day, batting behind Graig Nettles and ahead of Felipe Alou. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI in a 15-5 drubbing by the Red Sox, who let pitcher Luis Tiant bat ninth instead of opt for the new spot.

Although he was a top pick a few years earlier, Blomberg didn’t appear on a baseball card until 1972 Topps and he only appeared on about 30 cards — mostly made in various oddball sets — during his career, which ended in 1978 after 461 career games. He had just 391 hits and 52 career home runs, while his career average was a respectable .293.

His place in history as the first DH, though, has helped him continue to appear on cards. He’s got more than 130 — but only two are memorabilia cards and about 30 are autographs. His first autos came in the 2003 Upper Deck Yankees Signature Series Pride of New York release, a landmark issue focusing on just the Bronx Bombers, while his most-recent autos were found in 2012 Panini Golden Age and 2013 Panini America’s Pastime.

They’re inexpensive autographs with plenty of priceless trivial appeal.

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