Taken from Ron Blomberg's own website: (http://www.ronblomberg.com/bio_stats.htm)
"Ron Blomberg, Major League Baseball's first designated hitter and the "great Jewish hope" of the New York Yankees during the 1970's, is an icon of boyhood dreams achieved. The story of Rons life and career is one that can inspire anyone to believe that their goals, no matter how difficult they may appear, can be achieved by maintaining a positive, determined attitude.
When Ron Blomberg was a young boy living in Georgia, he dreamed of playing for the Yankees and made donning pinstripes his ultimate goal. The journey to Yankee Stadium would not be an easy one for Ron, as he would not only have to battle opposing pitchers but also the prejudice and persecution his Jewish heritage often provoked. However, despite facing the additional obstacle of bigotry, Ron was called up to the Yankees after only two years in the minor leagues, and his eight year playing earned him an honorary spot in baseball's Hall of Fame.
Ron Blomberg was the number one over-all pick in the 1967 amateur draft and made his Yankee debut on September 10, 1969.
Expectations where high, as Ron was heralded as "the next Mickey Mantle." Though injuries would prevent Ron from ever matching "The Mick's" statistical glory, he still never failed to generate productive seasons, and was the Yankees team leader in batting average during the 1973 year. It was on April 6 of that same season when Ron came to the plate as Major League Baseballs first-ever designated hitter, a role that would secure him his spot in the Hall of Fame.
Becoming a major league baseball player is not the only remarkable aspect of Ron Blombergs life. His story is filled with as many struggles off the field as he faced while in uniform. As both a youth and an adult, Ron was often the victim of cruel, anti-Semitic discrimination. While a Yankee player, he was shunned by many of his teammates and rejected by a segment of the teams fan base. Ron always reacted to these adversities with class and dignity, often using his southern charm to win over the hearts and minds of those who initially rejected him. Ron saw adversity as an opportunity to become stronger and wiser, for he felt his mission in life was to triumph over challenges and set a positive example for others to follow. He often reminded friends, fans, and teammates who were faced with seemingly insurmountable troubles, "Hell, if I can do it, anyone can!"
Ron retired from baseball in 1978, having earned both a special place in baseball history and the admiration of baseball fans all over the world. He ended his career having amassed a life-time .293 batting average, with 52 home runs and 224 RBI."
More on Ron: Part of the reason Ron may never have amassed the statistics envisioned as he made his way to the majors was that he was labelled as strictly a platoon player throughout his career, a tag hung upon him as a minor leaguer in the Yankee system. It was often a source for debate and criticism because Ron claimed he could hit lefties. The book "Dog Days" by Philip Bashe relays this infamous example of how bad the tag was:
"In Texas [June 7, 1973], Rangers manager Whitey Herzog summoned a left-hander to face Number 12 [Blomberg] with two gone in the ninth, the tying runs on base, and the count 2-and-0. [Manager Ralph] Houk lifted his .407 hitter, 2-for-2 on the night, for right-handed Felipe Alou, who popped out to end the game. Afterward he offered the explanation, "Boomer doesn't hit lefties."1
Yes, you read that correctly. Ron was hitting .407 in June. In fact, he was hitting .403 as late as June 28th, yet he still wasn't put into the lineup everyday. This was not a small sampling. It was with 139 at-bats. No wonder the criticism grew. The Yankees were in a real pennant race, in first place leading the Orioles by one game on June 28th and they still wouldn't get a .400 hitter into the lineup everyday.
When the DH rolled around in 1973, it only hurt Blomberg more. Not only was Ron pegged as a platoon player, but due to his poor fielding, he was stuck in the position of left-handed DH. In fact, Ralph Houk planned on making him the full-time first baseman in 1974, but only if he improved his fielding. Although Houk
didn't stay on as manager in 1974, that didn't mean Blomberg put any more effort into improving his defense. As Yankee pitcher Steve Kline once noted, "Ron just didn't care about fielding. To him it was something you did while waiting to hit."2
1Philip Bashe, Dog Days: The New York Yankees Fall From Grace and Return to Glory (New York: Random House, 1994) p.246.
2Philip Bashe, Dog Days: The New York Yankees Fall From Grace and Return to Glory (New York: Random House, 1994) p.247.
On October 20, 1977, Ron became a free agent. On November 17, 1977, Ron signed with the Chicago White Sox.
Ron was injured for he 1977 season but was assigned #12