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Pitchers Had Another Bad Year Hitting. But No. 9 Hitters…

October 4, 1972: Yankees righty Larry Gowell hits a double off of Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jim Lonborg. The American League Brewers played that game in an American League park in the Bronx, with no designated hitter on either side.

October 3, 2021: Dodgers righty Andre Jackson hits for himself, in relief, grounding out against Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Daniel Norris. The National League Brewers played that game in a National League park in Los Angeles, with no designated hitter on either side.

Gowell started his game and went five innings. In the third he led off, got his double, and advanced on a 6-3 groundout before being stranded at third base. In the bottom of the inning, he gave up a sac fly to John Briggs. That proved to be the only run, tagging Gowell with the loss.

Jackson was in relief of Phil Bickford, himself in relief of Walker Buehler. When a reliever hits for himself, rarely is the game competitive: here, Jackson had already pitched two innings with a nice lead. Immediately before Jackson’s spot in the batting order came up, outfielder Matt Beaty drove in catcher Will Smith, utility man Chris Taylor, and himself. Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts surely saw the score in LA, the score in San Francisco, and Jackson’s roster status for the playoffs, and let him hit and finish out the ninth. (Jackson collected a save for his three-inning effort, the first of his career.)

Gowell probably wasn’t the last AL pitcher to bat before the DH. The Angels and Royals had night games on the same day with pitcher at-bats in the Pacific and Central time zones. If baseball should adopt the designated hitter rule for the National League effective next year, Jackson will probably be the last NL pitcher to bat under these rules. The Reds’ Reiver Sanmartin collected three at-bats before being lifted for a pinch-hitter on the same day, but two of those came to start and end the fifth inning in his game against the Pirates. The Giants’ Logan Webb collected three at-bats too, but his day as a batter ended after a home run in the fifth. All those games began around the same time, so Jackson’s appearance in the eighth inning was a bit later on. Read the rest of this entry »