“The Experimental Wild Card Player”

As mentioned earlier in the week, I’m researching the 1961 spring training in Riverside of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Rangers, the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate that year.

The Dallas Morning News has all its archives on-line. For $29.95, you can read and download up to 200 articles over a 30-day period. So that’s this weekend’s project.

I came across an article in the March 25, 1961 edition about a game between the Rangers and the Hawaii Islanders, who were based in Ontario. Buried in the article is this paragraph:

The Islanders insist upon using the experimental wild card player, but [Rangers Manager Walker] Cooper refuses to go along as far as the Rangers are concerned. No ruling has yet been made, but the Coast League favors the plan where in a batter, who never appears otherwise in the game, is designated as a permanent pinchhitter for the pitcher. The pitcher never bats, but may continue to pitch until replaced.

Wow. The DH was around in 1961.

The box score lists the DH’s name with alphabetic footnotes detailing each at-bat, e.g. “a Singled for Schmidt in 3rd.”

I loathe the DH. “Wild Card player” is easier to say, at least.

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