"Being the Designated Hitter," Campbell said last week at Silver Stadium in Rochester, "made me start to think a little more about hitting. If the pitcher got me the first time I could go back to the bench and think about how he had done it and what I had done wrong. Because I didn't have to go out and play in the field the idea of hitting was more on my mind. I had never done much pinch-hitting, but I know it's different. With the Designated Hitter rule you go up to bat and know that if you don't get a hit the first time up that you are still going to get two or three more chances."
Campbell's productive bat, a series of injuries and military commitments have recently forced him into the defensive starting lineup at first base, and he has already noticed the difference. "When I was the Designated Hitter I trained myself differently before the games," he says. "I would run enough to get myself into a good sweat so that I would be loose and not all tied up when I went up to hit. Maybe the job was easier and more of a mental thing, but since I've been starting I haven't been hitting the ball as well."
Last week Lee MacPhail, the general manager of the New York Yankees and one of the men who pushed hard for the DH trial, was sitting in his office at Yankee Stadium looking over statistics from the International League. "Obviously," MacPhail said, "the Designated Hitter has had some effect, and part of it can be seen in the pitching statistics. The ratio of hits to innings pitched is higher—much higher—than it was last year. The idea of the rule was that it would serve as an experiment so that we had something in reserve to study in case the defense continued to hold an edge over the offense.
"The swing back to offense so far has been fine, but I want to analyze the full statistics at the end of the season. The question remains: Has the hitting been helped so much by the lower mound and the smaller strike zone, or has expansion really been the main reason for the apparent increase in hitting? The Designated Hitter has allowed a lot of players to get to bat more often than they normally would, and in this way it has already accomplished something productive. I would like to see it continued in the minors."
Certainly the results of the International League trial have shown the Designated Hitter to be an experiment worth careful consideration, and if the Orioles decide to push for its adoption the majors could be in for more of the infighting baseball is famous for. The conservatives may win out again over those who do not dream about the ghost of Abner Doubleday every night, but then baseball, like the turtle, may decide instead that progress is seldom made without sticking your neck out.