White Sox News

Bumgardner first Pitcher Starting in Place of DH Since Sox Brett in’76

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The San Francisco Giants have announced that all-star Pitcher Madison Bumgarner will hit in the lineup against the A’s in Oakland tonight. He will become the first pitcher to be intentionally inserted into the batting order since the White Sox Ken Brett did it in 1976.

Bumgarner has won the last two silver slugger awards as the National League’s best hitting pitcher. He has a career .305 slugging percentage and a .530 OPS. Over the last two seasons, the 2014 World Series MVP has hit .252 with nine home runs and 24 RBIs. He has a .280 on base percentage, a .469 slugging percentage and a .749 on base plus slugging in that same time span.

Per ESPN, Bumgarner’s 11 home runs in 183 at-bats over the last three seasons is a higher rate than Bryce Harper and Josh Donaldson. He has also walked four times in 47 plate appearances.

The decision was surprising given that Bumgarner is a right-handed hitter and a left handed pitcher. That exposes his pitching arm every time he bats. This marks the first time a team is foregoing the DH in an inter-league game.  Giants Manager Bruce Bochy commented on the decision after last night’s game.

"“”He’s a good hitter, he’s dangerous and we’re facing a lefty [in Oakland’s Dillon Overton],”"

The White Sox acquired Brett in May of 1976. He had a 62-62 career record and a 3.76 ERA when he came to the southside. Brett was such a good hitter that most teams wanted him as a center-fielder when he was drafted. The Red Sox took him with the fourth pick of the 1967 draft as a 17 year old pitcher.

He would make it to the majors 15 months later. That fall he became the youngest player to ever appear in a World Series. He made two appearances as the Red Sox lost in seven games to St. Louis.

Brett’s last appearance as a hitter in place of the DH was on September 23rd, 1976. Brett hit eighth for the White Sox against Minnesota at Comiskey Park. His catcher, Jim,Essian was the only position player that hit behind him. Brett was 0-7 on the season coming into the game against Minnesota, with only one strikeout. In three at-bats, he flew out to left and grounded out twice to the pitcher.

Brett appeared earlier in the season in the batting order in place of the DH on July 6th, 1976 ironically against the Red Sox. Those were Brett’s first at-bats of the season. To that point of his career, Brett was a .300 hitter with one home run and three RBIs. Brett went 0-6 in the two games that he hit instead of a DH.

Brett would also make history when he started for the White Sox in the first ever game in Toronto on Opening Day 1977. He gave up five runs in three innings as the White Sox went on to lose 9-5.

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Sadly, both his career and life ended way too soon. Brett retired from baseball at 33 after the 1981 season. He passed away from brain cancer on November 18, 2003 at the age of 55. He did get to finish his baseball career with his brother, Hall of Fame third baseman George.  They were Royals teammates at the end of the 1980 season and the entire 1981 season.

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