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.
Arihara Struggles In Rangers 7-2 Loss To Astros
Kohei Arihara was charged with six runs as the Houston Astros rolled over the Texas Rangers, 7-2.
Rangers vs Astros: Willie Calhoun Returns To Starting Lineup, Roster Moves, Injury Report
After splitting the first two games of their four-game series with the Houston Astros, the Texas Rangers welcome back Willie Calhoun on Wednesday night.
Rangers History Today: Ryan's No. 34 Retired
On this date, 'The Ryan Express' took its rightful place in the pantheon of Texas Rangers stars at The Ballpark in Arlington.
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.
June 30, 2005: Kevin Mench became the seventh player in Major League history to hit home runs in three consecutive innings, when he hit home runs in the fifth, sixth, and seven innings against the Los Angeles Angels.
More From SI's Inside The Rangers:
- 'He's On Another Planet Right Now': Gallo Homers Twice As Rangers Win Fourth Straight Game
- Home Cooking & Road Woes: The Story of the 2021 Texas Rangers...So Far
- Rangers Prospects Evan Carter, Tekoah Roby To Miss Significant Time With Injuries
Are we missing a moment from this day in Texas Rangers history? We’re happy to add it. Hit us up on Twitter @PostinsPostcard and let us know what to add.
Like 'Inside The Rangers' on Facebook