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Rangers History Today: First Home Run By A Texas Pitcher

On this day, Bobby Witt became the first Rangers pitcher to hit a home run in a regular-season game, but it was bigger than that.

On this date in Texas Rangers history, pitcher Bobby Witt became the first Rangers pitcher to hit a home run in a game in team history.

The game, played on June 30, 1997, was the first year of interleague regular season play between the American League and National League. Witt, in his second stint with the Rangers, was with the team in Los Angeles to face the Dodgers.

Witt hit the home run off a future Rangers pitcher, Ismael Valdéz, and the solo shot came in one of the game’s most infamous pitchers’ parks, Dodger Stadium.

But the home run was more historic than it just being the first home run hit by a Rangers pitcher. It was the first home run hit by an American League pitcher in a regular season game since October 3, 1972, when Baltimore pitcher Roric Harrison hit one out of Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium in the first game of a doubleheader.

The next season, the AL implemented the designated hitter rule, taking pitchers out of the batting order. Between 1973 and 1997, the only time AL pitchers needed to hit were in the All-Star Game and the World Series, and only when the games were at NL parks (when the games were played by NL rules).

Witt, a former first-round pick for the Rangers, carved out a 16-year career in the Major Leagues, winning 142 games along the way. Many believed he would be the next ‘Nolan Ryan,’ but Witt was never quite that good. However, he did have a career-high 17 wins in 1990 with Ryan on the roster. In his final season, in 2001, he claimed a World Series ring with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Also on this date …

June 30, 1996: Second baseman Mark McLemore finished the month with a .472 batting average, at the time the best single-month batting average in team history.

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