Jeff Walters

Fascinating Facts About The 1973 Baseball Season

1973 was an interesting year for baseball. The 1973 Major League Baseball season was the first season of the designated hitter rule in the American League. American League umpires had a costume change from navy blue coats and gray pants to red blazers with blue pants, Nolan Ryan set a new record for strike-outs, the Oakland Athletics won their second straight World Series championship, the Kansas City Royals moved their home games from Municipal Stadium to the new Royals Stadium, the New York Yankees played their final season at the original Yankee Stadium, and on June 19, Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds and Willie Davis of the Los Angeles Dodgers both collect their 2000th career hit.

With that in mind let’s look at some more interesting and historic facts from the 1973 season. Did you know these factoids?

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Which future Hall of Famer who hit 660 home runs played his last game in 1973?



Willie Mays was the Hall of Famer who hit 660 home runs played and played his last game in 1973. To most Mets fans, October 14, 1973 is a day to remember. Not only did they beat the Oakland A’s in the World Series, Willie Mays stroked the final hit of his monstrous career. Making his fourth appearance in the fall classic, the then 42 year old Willie Mays was the oldest player to ever appear in the World Series. His vote into the Hall of Fame was almost unanimous, at 94.7% with a remarkable career .302/.384/.557.

Who became the first designated hitter in baseball in April 6, 1973?



Ron Blomberg was the first designated hitter in baseball in April 6, 1973. With the implementation of the designated hitter and the overall higher team batting average of the American League compared to the National League, team owners started to see an increase in fan attendance in the once “less popular” American League as well.

Who won the American League East in 1973?


baltimore orioles 1973

The Baltimore Orioles won the American League East in 1973 with a total of 97 wins and 65 losses. Catcher Earl Williams made up for the disappointing production of 1B Boog Powell by belting out a team leading 22 home runs and 83 RBIs. They also added 24-year-old outfielder Don Baylor who, in addition to displaying some power, stole 32 bases. In addition to Jim Palmer's Cy Young season, left hander Mike Cuellar posted 18 wins.

What was George Steinbrenner portion when he purchased the Yankees in 1973?



George Steinbrenner’s original portion of the 1973 purchase of the New York Yankees was just $168,000. This accounted for only 1.9% of the initial $8.7 million purchase. By the time of his passing in 2010, his stake in the team had actually grown to a whopping 57% which was then passed on to his family. Assuming the Steinbrenner family still owns this 57%, it is now worth over $1.8 billion. A monstrous 200,000% increase from George Steinbrenner’s initial investment (inflation considered.)

Which two teams did Billy Martin manage in 1973?


billy marting 1973

The two teams Billy Martin managed in 1973 were the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers.  Frustrated that umpires were not calling Indians pitcher Gaylord Perry for spitballs during the August 30th game, Martin ordered his pitchers to do the same. This controversial decision would have Martin fired from the Tigers before his suspension had ended. When one door closes, another opens, and Martin became the manager of the Rangers shortly after. It was an uphill battle from there, with the Rangers struggling in almost every game. Ultimately, Martin was once again fired due to a controversial decision in 1975 when he ordered the public address announcer to play "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" during the seventh inning stretch instead of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (as Corbett had instructed).

Which future Hall of Famer made his major league debut on June 19, 1973?


dave winfield 1973

Hall of Famer Dave Winfield made his major league debut on June 19,1973. This happened exactly two weeks after he was selected fourth overall by the Padres in the 1973 amateur draft. Despite being known for his right field performance, Winfield started his career in the left field. His fruitful career actually started with a loss, and was actually an uphill climb. He was a member of multiple losing teams in San Diego and then again with the Yankees and Angels. He would eventually go on to win a ring in 1992 with the Blue Jays, who as luck would have it, were managed by Cito Gaston the very same player who started in right field for the Padres the day Winfield made his debut.

Whose record did Nolan Ryan beat when he struck out 383 batters in one season in 1973?


Ryan-Nolan 1973

Nolan Ryan’s first major record was set in 1973 when he struck out 383 batters in one season, beating Sandy Koufax’s 382 record by 1. Koufax jokingly remarked "Yeah, and he also surpassed my total for bases on balls in a single season by 91." Ryan would continue to dominate that year, with 2 no-hitters, the second of which happened on July 15 against the Detroit Tigers setting another record with 17 struck out batters.

Which historic or fun facts would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

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