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  • Paul Semendinger

Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Cards #543, Ron Blomberg (Article 108)

by Paul Semendinger

(Continuing a series…)

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Rob Blomberg could hit. Man could he hit.


I became a Yankees fan in 1977, so I never got to see Ron Blomberg, but I can look back at the stats and see that the man could hit.


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Ron Blomberg was the very first player taken in the 1967 Major League Baseball Draft. The Yankees, in what would be a rare position for them, got to pick first (because they were dreadfully bad in 1966).


Blomberg because a minor star, but injuries curtailed his career. Still, he was a beloved Yankee and is famous, of course, for being the first Designated Hitter.


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Sometimes people wonder who else of note came from a particular draft. Well, the 1967 draft had quite a few players many who were All-Stars. These include:


Round 1:

  • Jon Matlack (chosen 4th)

  • John Mayberry (6th)

  • Ted Simmons (10th) - future Hall of Famer

  • Bobby Grich (19th)

Round 2:

  • Vida Blue

  • Dave Kingman

  • Jerry Reuss

  • Don Baylor

  • Ralph Garr

  • Richie Zik

  • Steve Busby

  • Davey Lopes

Some Others of Note:

  • Chris Chambliss (did not sign)

  • Dusty Baker

  • Archie Manning (yes, the father of Peyton and Eli and an NFL player himself...)

The Yankees drafted one other player that year. A pretty good pitcher... He was a five-time All-Star, once led the league in ERA, was the runner-up for the Rookie of the Year, and was also a Cy Young Award runner-up. That pitcher was Steve Rogers of the Montreal Expos.


The Yankees have only twice picked first in the draft. Their picks were Ron Blomberg (1967) and Brien Taylor (1991).


The only other player the Yankees ever picked among the first five was the player they picked fourth in 1968. That guy was Thurman Munson. He was the fourth player chosen that year.


But this is about Ron Blomberg, and that man could hit.

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In 1971, in 64 games, Blomberg batted .322 with seven homers and 31 runs batted in.

In 1973, in 100 games, he hit .329/12/57

In 1974, in 90 games, he hit .311/10/48


What might have been...


In 1975, Ron Blomberg played in 34 games.

In 1976, he played in one game.

In 1977, he didn't play.

In 1978, now a White Sox, he played in 61 games and batted .231.


And that was it.


What might have been, if he hadn't been injured.

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The prevailing thought with Ron Blomberg was that he couldn't hit left-handed pitchers. The stats seem to prove that out.


For his career, he batted .304 against righties. Against lefties, he batted only .215.


Of course, if one is to learn how to hit lefties, he has to be given a chance. Ron Blomberg had 1,175 at bats against right-handers, but only 158 against left-handers. It's fair to say, he was never really given a chance to show if he could or couldn't figure out the Major League southpaw.

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Here's an interesting stat:

Ron Blomberg hit 52 career home runs.

26 came at home.

26 came on the road.

***

Here's another:

The man who is famous for being a DH, actually hit better when he wasn't a DH:

As an outfielder, he batted .338

As a first baseman, he batted .311

As a pinch-hitter, he batted .319

And as a designated hitter, he batted .259

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When Ron Blomberg played, the Yankees played at the original Yankee Stadium and also at Shea Stadium. He did well in both venues:

Yankee Stadium (146 games) - .302

Shea Stadium (63 games) - .300

***

Widely considered one of baseball's good guys, Ron Blomberg has written a few good books Designated Hebrew and The Captain and Me. I have enjoyed both.



















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