DH Ron Blomberg Hits .329
On Opening Day 1973, Ron Blomberg became the first designated hitter in major league history. Blomberg batted .329 in 100 games for the Yankees, including 12 homers.
Willie Mays Plays Out Final Season
Perhaps the most notorious trade of 1972 was that of aging Giants superstar Willie Mays for Mets pitcher Charlie Williams. Always a New York favorite, Mays couldn't produce the magic he wielded in the 1950s. In his last year of play, Mays tallied a mere .211 average, with six homers and 25 RBI in 209 at-bats.
Tony Perez Is the Main Cog in the Machine
Many consider Tony Perez to have been the greatest player in the Big Red Machine of the 1970s. He displayed his leadership, fielding, and power hitting in six League Championship Series and five World Series. In 1973, Perez helped the Reds to a division title with his .314 average, 27 homers, and 101 RBI.
Nolan Ryan Tosses Two No-Nos
In 1973, Nolan Ryan became the fifth pitcher in major league history to hurl two no-hitters in one season. Ryan no-hit the Royals on May 15, then the Tigers July 15, striking out 17.
Pete Rose Named 1973 National League MVP
Pete Rose won his sole MVP Award in 1973, batting .338 and gathering 230 hits, both top in the circuit. The switch-hitting outfielder also collected 115 runs scored, making 1973 one of his best seasons. He was rewarded with the title of Sporting News Player of the Decade.
Jim Palmer Wins American League Cy Young
Jim Palmer (22-9, loop-best 2.40 ERA) captured the 1973 American League Cy Young Award, his first of three in four years. The unflappable Palmer never surrendered a grandslam during his 16 years as an Oriole. Palmer probably hated to see the new designated hitter rule; he collected 22 hits in 1972.
Fritz Peterson Fares Better in Swaps
The Yankees retained wife-swapping pitcher Fritz Peterson for the 1973 season while trading teammate Mike Kekich (and Peterson's ex-wife) to Cleveland. After posting an 8-15 season in 1973 and starting off 1974 with 13 hits in eight innings, Peterson was also given his walking papers. He arrived in Cleveland just as the Tribe was releasing Kekich.
Mike Kekich Deals Wife, Kids to Peterson
The Bronx Zoo never seemed more weird than early in the 1973 season, when Yankee Mike Kekich decided to trade wives and families with teammate Fritz Peterson. Kekich would himself be traded to Cleveland midway through the 1973 season -- he ended the year 2-5 with a 7.48 ERA -- and receive his unconditional release in 1974.
Gary Matthews: 1973 National League Rookie of the Year
Gary Matthews proved to be the perfect complement to Giant teammates Bobby Bonds and Garry Maddox, as the trio comprised one of the great National League outfields of the 1970s. Matthews won the 1973 National League Rookie of the Year Award, hitting an even .300, nailing 12 homers, and scoring 74 runs.
Willie Stargell Still the Best
Willie Stargell maintained his status as the premier power hitter in the National League in 1973 by racking up circuit-leading figures in doubles (43), homers (44), RBI (119), and slugging average (.646). No National Leaguer would reach his slugging mark for 20 years. Despite Stargell's heroics, the Pirates finished 2-1/2 games behind the Mets to end the season in third place.
Check out more 1973 baseball season headlines on the next page.