The DH, or designated hitter, is a non-fielding baseball player who hits in a regular slot in the batting order but who never takes to the diamond on defense.
Technically, the DH may be used to hit in place of any fielding position the team, but in practice, he usually replaces the pitcher in the batting order.
Here are a few other facts you might not know about the DH in baseball.
When did MLB adopt the designated hitter rule?
After teams used the DH on a trial basis in Spring Training from 1969 through 1972, the leagues and MLB agreed to adopt the designated hitter rule during the regular season for the first time, and still as a trial, in 1973 … on a limited basis.
The use of the DH would be limited to American League teams.
Who was the first designated hitter?
Ron Blomberg of the New York Yankees became the first designated hitter in the history of Major League Baseball regular-season play on April 6, 1973.
When did the National League adopt the designated hitter rule?
With the advent of interleague play in 1997, National League teams began using the designated hitter when they were on the road against American League clubs.
Then, after nearly fifty years of the two circuits playing under different rules, and after some experimentation during the COVID-19 pandemic years, the National League officially adopted the designated hitter rule for the 2022 season.
The universal DH remains a topic that divides fans across generations, but it’s an institution that’s here to stay.