All Hail the Designated Hitter

Readers of Red Stitches know that I’ve not been fond of the Designated Hitter Rule. But one must bow to the inevitable. It’s absurd that the two leagues play under different rules, and the players’ union will never give up the DH in the American League. And so I happily surrender to the impending adoption of the DH by the National League. It’s time to allow ALL ball players who suffer the indignity of defensive liabilities to prolong their careers as Designated Hitters.

But I go further. The current DH rule begins with this sentence: “Any League may elect to use Rule 6.10 (b), which shall be called the ‘Designated Hitter Rule.’ ”.

I hereby propose a new rule which would abolish the current rule:

“All Leagues are required to use Rule 6.10, which shall be called the ‘Designated Hitters and Designated Runners Rule.

The Designated Hitters and Designated Runners Rule provides as follows:

(a) A hitter shall be designated to bat for each defensive player, including the pitcher, and shall be known as a Designated Hitter; each Designated Hitter shall be designated a runner known as a Designated Runner. In effect, there shall be nine defensive players, nine Designated Hitters, and nine Designated Runners.

(b) As the Designated Hitter (DH) assumes his position in the batter’s box, the Designated Runner (DR) shall position himself in the runner’s box in preparation to run for the DH, should the latter strike the ball fair or reach first base by any other means.

(c) The Designated Runners box is defined as a 4-foot-by-4-foot box positioned in foul territory 15 feet from the first-base foul line and three feet toward the outfield from first base.

(d) In the event the DH reaches first base by a walk, hit-by pitch, catcher’s interference, he shall touch said base and immediately return to his dugout to rest. His DR shall then possess first base and prepare to run.

(e) Should a DH bat a ball into fair territory, he shall run to first base as his DR prepares to run the bases by going to a three-foot-long starting line located three feet from foul territory. As the DH runs by, touching first base, his DR may run the bases at his own risk or remain at first base. The DH shall immediately return to his dugout to rest or repair to his clubhouse for a massage.

(f) Should a batted ball be a home run, the DH may choose to circle the bases or jog to first base and signal his DR to complete the home run. In either case, the DH shall return to his dugout to rest.

RULE 6.10 COMMENT Regarding the scoring of base hits or stolen bases, it is recommended that all hits—singles, doubles, triples and home runs—be credited to the Designated Hitter. It is also recommended that the Designated Hitter be credited with all stolen bases produced by the Designated Runner.”

That’s it—a modest proposal no doubt. I realize that the owners will hesitate to approve it due to the expense of expanding clubhouses and dugouts to accommodate the increase in rosters. But I have faith that once they reflect on the spirit of compassion for the Designated Hitter inherent in the rule, they will come around.

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