Ron Blomberg

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Ron Blomberg
First baseman / Designated hitter
Born: (1948-08-23) August 23, 1948 (age 65)
Atlanta, Georgia
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
September 10, 1969 for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
October 12, 1978 for the Chicago White Sox
Career statistics
Batting average .293
Home runs 52
Runs batted in 224
Teams
Career highlights and awards
  • First designated hitter in Major League Baseball history

Ronald Mark Blomberg (born August 23, 1948, in Atlanta, Georgia), nicknamed Boomer, is a former Major League Baseball designated hitter, first baseman, and right fielder. He played for the New York Yankees (1969, 1971–76) and Chicago White Sox (1978), and he was the manager of the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox in the Israel Baseball League (2007). He was the first designated hitter in Major League Baseball history.

He batted left-handed, and threw right-handed.

In his 8-season career, Blomberg compiled a .293 batting average (391-for-1,333) with 52 home runs, 224 RBIs, 184 runs, 67 doubles, and 8 triples in 461 games. He added a .360 on-base percentage and a .473 slugging average. For his career, he hit .304 against right-handers, and .304 with 2 out and runners in scoring position, as well as .325 when the score was tied.[1]

High school[edit]

Blomberg attended Druid Hills High School, earning four letters each in baseball, basketball, and track, and graduated in 1967.[2] He was an all-star in baseball, football, and basketball. He is the only athlete ever chosen for the Parade All-America teams in football, basketball, and baseball.[3]

He received 125 basketball scholarship offers, and John Wooden, the basketball coach at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), paid him a recruiting visit. Roger Couch, Blomberg's basketball coach, said: "Blomberg is the finest basketball player I ever saw — high school or college."[4] He also received 100 football scholarship offers.[5]

Blomberg was selected by the Yankees in the first round (1st pick) of the 1967 amateur draft, and signed for $75,000 ($530,000 today). He attended DeKalb Junior College part-time, and later majored in psychology at Farleigh Dickinson University.[2]

Minor league career[edit]

Blomberg played in the minor leagues from 1967 to 1971. In 1971 he was hitting .326 with a .565 slugging percentage for the Yankees AAA team when the Yankees called him up to the major leagues.

Major league career[edit]

New York Yankees (1969–76)[edit]

He made his major league debut on September 10, 1969. After going 3-for-6 in his first season, Blomberg was out in 1970 with injuries. In 1971, he hit .322 for the parent club in 199 at bats. In 1972, he hit a career-high 14 home runs and 22 doubles in 299 at bats.

Blomberg was the first major leaguer to play a game as a designated hitter. On April 6, 1973, at Fenway Park, he was walked by Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant with the bases loaded in his first plate appearance of the game.[6] The bat Blomberg used is in Cooperstown's Hall of Fame.[2] In 1973, Blomberg finished with a healthy .329 average, .395 OBP, and .498 SLG in 301 at-bats. He hit .351 with runners in scoring position.

In 1974 he hit .311, and .338 with runners in scoring position. After this, his career was cut short by shoulder and knee injuries. A 1975 injury forced him to miss all but one game of the 1976 season. In the spring of 1977, Blomberg appeared ready to make the team again, but another injury, from running into the outfield wall, forced him to miss another year. "I had four knee and two shoulder injuries," he said. Still, I gave 120 percent. I lived in Riverdale, and when I was injured, people came up to me and waved to me and hugged me."[7][8]

In a March 1977 spring training game in which he was put into the outfield, he tore his knee while chasing a fly ball.[6] Out in 1977, he was granted free agency at the end of the season.

Chicago White Sox (1978)[edit]

The White Sox signed him as a free agent for $300,000 in 1978.[6] He played his final game for the White Sox on October 1, 1978.

Honors[edit]

Blomberg was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.[9]

In 2007 Blomberg received the city of Atlanta’s prestigious Phoenix Award from Mayor Shirley Franklin for his outstanding service and achievements, both as a professional athlete and citizen through his charitable works in Atlanta and throughout the country.[10]

Blomberg twice was voted the most popular person in New York, edging out Joe Namath, the pride of the Jets.[4]

Managing career[edit]

Blomberg managed the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox in the 2007 inaugural season of the Israel Baseball League.[11] He skippered his team to a league-leading 29–12 (.707) regular season won-lost record, as well as to the IBL Championship. This was Blomberg's first crack at managing, after passing up the Yankees' request that he manage in their minor system.[12]

Being in Israel, Blomberg said, “was the greatest thing — just one notch below playing for the Yankees.” In the league they were obliged to have at least two Jewish players on each team, and Blomberg had two Orthodox Israelis on his team. When they asked for time out to say Minha, he was taken aback. Then he saw the crowd joining them to daven behind the food concession. “It was the greatest rush of my life,” he said. “I was in the Holy Land, near King Solomon’s tomb]. I knew I was protected.” But when the team still lost the game, he demanded: “You said your prayers — so what happened?”[5]

Scouting[edit]

Blomberg is a Yankee scout in the Atlanta area.

Writing[edit]

In April 2006, Blomberg's biography, Designated Hebrew: the Ron Blomberg Story[13] was released by Sports Publishing. It was co-written by Dan Schlossberg, the author of over 30 baseball books, including The Baseball Catalog, and host of the syndicated radio show, BallTalk. The book discusses Blomberg's life leading up to his major league career, his playing days as a Yankee, and his Jewish heritage.

As of December 2006 it is in its fourth printing.[7]

Another book, a cookbook, is also in the works.

Summer camp[edit]

Blomberg has been running a summer baseball camp for kids at the New Jersey Y Camps since 2006.

He also ran a Baseball Day Camp in Paramus, NJ in the 70's

Philanthropy[edit]

After his retirement from baseball in 1978, Blomberg worked with numerous charitable organizations, most recently the Israel Cancer Research Fund, where he serves as honorary chairman and spokesperson.[10]

Jewish heritage[edit]

Blomberg is Jewish, and his family is of Romanian descent.[14]

Blomberg doted on the attention he received in New York because he was Jewish: "To be able to play in front of 8 million Jews! Can’t beat it. I lit everyone’s candles for every bar mitzvah in the city. It was like I was related to everyone. They named a sandwich after me at the Stage Deli!"[15]

Through 2010, he was seventh all-time in career batting average (behind Hank Greenberg, Ryan Braun, Buddy Myer, Lou Boudreau, Phil Weintraub, and Kevin Youkilis) among Jewish major league baseball players.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ron Blomberg Career Batting Splits – Baseball-Reference PI". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Peter S. Horvitz, Joachim Horvitz. The Big Book of Jewish Baseball: An .... Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ a b [2][dead link]
  5. ^ a b "Former Yankee Blomberg remembers glory days | New Jersey Jewish News". Njjewishnews.com. November 6, 2008. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c Maury Allen. Yankees. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Ron Blomberg Recalls New York Days". Antonnews.com. December 15, 2006. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  8. ^ Jacobson, Mark. "Joltin' Jew", New York (magazine), April 17, 2006. Accessed May 3, 2008. "I lived in Riverdale, in the same building with Willie Mays."
  9. ^ http://www.jewishsports.org/jewishsports/detail.asp?id=88
  10. ^ a b "ronblomberg.com". ronblomberg.com. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Holtzman, Blomberg, Shamsky to manage in Israel League – MLB – CBSSports.com Baseball". Sportsline.com. February 12, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  12. ^ Mittleman, Jerry. "Baseball / IBL / Baseball, kosher-style – Haaretz – Israel News". Haaretz.com. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Designated Hebrew: The Ron Blomberg Story: Ron Blomberg, Dan Schlossberg: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  14. ^ Ron Blomberg, Dan Schlossberg (March 2006). Designated Hebrew: The Ron Blomberg Story. Total Sports Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 1-58261-987-5. 
  15. ^ "The Jewish Standard". Jstandard.com. January 24, 2011. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Career Batting Leaders through 2010". Career Leaders. Jewish Major Leaguers. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 

External links[edit]