Who was the first to pull the “Double Switch”?

Determining who “invented” the “double switch” is nearly impossible, but it is possible to identify who probably used it first.

To begin, let’s define the “double switch” tactic, which can be used when a manager changes his pitcher.

This baseball term is used to describe a particular type of substitution. The double switch is most often used to replace an outgoing pitcher with a stronger hitter, and it is executed in two parts.

First, the outgoing player, usually a pitcher who is up to bat soon, is substituted out for a position player.

Next, another player batting later in the order is replaced, usually by a relief pitcher.

The last step is for the two substitutes to swap defensive positions (if necessary).” [MLB]

The advantage of this strategy is that the batting lineup is strengthened, albeit temporarily, while using less players than a typical pinch hitter strategy. In the American League the designated hitter rule exists, which negates any need for the double switch. This rule is much more important to the National League, where it is used when a team needs to improve its offense quickly, in the short term. The double switch may only occur if the ball has been ruled dead.” [Sporting Charts]

And, a double-switch can only happen when 2 players enter the game AT THE SAME TIME.

It is also important to note that, since the advent of the DH in the AL in 1976, this move can only be made in the National League.  Here is Tony LaRussa discussing the difference in strategy between the AL and NL:

“The designated hitter is obviously the biggest one. The fact that the pitcher is in there, as opposed to the DH, it does a lot to impact at least a third of the innings.

And when you are making decisions, you’re always conscious of where the pitcher is and when he is likely to come up. You use your bench differently. You use your bullpen differently. You have the double-switch, which is an important play in the National League. I think it’s a healthy way to play because the entire game is showcased in the NL and there are pieces of it that never appear in the American League.”

sparky

 

The hunt for the first use of the “double switch” by a Major League manager inevitably goes through Sparky “Captain Hook” Anderson, who won that nickname, because he would not hesitate to yank a pitcher from a game and replace him with a reliever.

There is no doubt that Anderson employed the “double switch” many times and may have even been the League leader in that category.

It is also a fact that he managed the Reds from 1970-1978 and the Tigers from 1979-1995; significantly, he also managed the AAA Toronto team in the International League in 1964.

1964

30

Toronto IL AAA WSA,MLN 1 of 1

152

80

72

.526

1965

31

Rock Hill WCRS A STL 1 of 1

122

59

63

.484

1966

32

St. Petersburg FLOR A STL 1 of 1

136

91

45

.669

1967

33

Modesto CALL A STL 1 of 1

140

79

61

.564

1968

34

Asheville SOUL AA CIN 1 of 1

140

86

54

.614

But, was he the first Major league manager to use the “double switch”?

One of Sparky’s managerial idols was Gene Mauch, who began his MLB managing career with the 1960 Phillies.

A brilliant and creative tactician, Mauch platooned aggressively, always seeking an edge. He even moved the Phillies bullpen to right field, so that one of his coaches could signal when a ball was going to hit the wall or be caught.

He is often credited with introducing the double switch in 1964.

Since Sparky Anderson managed in the Minor leagues from 1964-1968  and was not a manager in MLB until 1970, we can say that Mauch used the “double switch” in 1964 in the Majors, six years before Anderson was on the scene.

While reading a statistical report about pitchers who also played a defensive position in the same game, we happened upon the last line [below], which lists New York Giants’ RHP Ruben Gomez as a pitcher who also played OF in the same game.

This is intriguing, because the Giants’ manager was the feisty, wily, yet astute, Leo “The Lip” Durocher and the game were played 1957-08-04.

This appears to be proof that Leo Durocher used a “double switch” in 1957, before Sparky Anderson and Gene Mauch.

Here is a list of players who pitched and played RF in a game:

Cnt Player            Date          Tm   Opp GmReslt PA AB  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF ROE GDP SB CS BOr Positions

+—-+—————–+————-+—+—-+——-+–+–+–+–+–+–+–+—+–+—+–+—+–+–+—+—+–+–+—+———+

1 Mike Aldrete      1996-07-18    NYY @MIL L  4-16  2  1  1  0  0  0  0   0  1   0  0   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 3rd RF P

 

2 Danny Heep        1990-05-25    BOS @MIN L  0-16  0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 4th RF P

 

3 Todd Worrell      1989-04-11    STL @CHC L  4-5   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th RF P

 

4 Todd Worrell      1987-09-22    STL  PHI W  3-2   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th RF P

5 Glenn Wilson      1987-08-05    PHI @NYM L  3-13  5  4  1  1  1  0  0   0  0   0  1   1  0  0   0   0  0  0 2nd RF P

6 Keith Comstock    1987-06-17    SFG @ATL L  1-6   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th RF P

 

7 Jesse Orosco      1986-07-22    NYM @CIN W  6-3   2  1  1  0  0  0  0   0  1   0  0   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 6th RF P

8 Todd Worrell      1986-06-27    STL  PHI L  1-2   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 8th RF P

9 Todd Worrell      1986-06-24    STL  PIT W  5-2   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th RF P

 

10 Rick Leach        1984-08-15(1) TOR @CLE L  1-16  3  3  0  1  0  0  0   0  0   0  0   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 8th RF P

 

11 Bob Bailor        1980-08-16    TOR @KCR L  5-11  4  4  1  3  0  0  0   0  0   0  0   0  0  0   0   0  1  0 2nd RF P

 

12 Rocky Colavito    1958-08-13(2) CLE  DET L  2-3   4  4  0  2  1  1  0   1  0   0  1   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 7th RF P

NOTE:  Some were actually full-time outfielders [in italics] who simply made a rare pitching appearance.

Here is a list of players who pitched and played LF in a game:

  Cnt Player            Date          Tm   Opp GmReslt PA AB  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF ROE GDP SB CS BOr Positions
+----+-----------------+-------------+---+----+-------+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+---+--+---+--+---+--+--+---+---+--+--+---+---------+
    1 David McCarty     2004-06-12    BOS  LAD L  5-14  1  1  0  0  0  0  0   0  0   0  1   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 4th LF P
 
    2 Chuck McElroy     1999-08-08    NYM  LAD L  3-14  0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 1st LF P
 
    3 Jeff Nelson       1993-07-15    SEA @BOS W  3-2   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 6th LF P
 
    4 Roger McDowell    1991-10-01    LAD  SDP W  3-1   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th LF P
    5 Doug Dascenzo     1991-06-28    CHC  STL L  6-14  2  2  0  0  0  0  0   0  0   0  0   0  0  0   0   1  0  0 5th LF P
 
    6 Les Lancaster     1990-06-13(1) CHC  NYM L 10-15  2  2  0  0  0  0  0   0  0   0  1   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 9th LF P
 
    7 Dan Gladden       1988-06-27    MIN @CAL L  7-16  5  5  1  1  0  0  0   0  0   0  0   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 1st LF P
 
    8 Jeff Dedmon       1986-10-01    ATL  CIN L  5-6   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th LF P
    9 Dane Iorg         1986-06-23    SDP @SFG L  1-18  2  2  0  0  0  0  0   0  0   0  0   0  0  0   0   1  0  0 5th LF P
 
   10 Kent Tekulve      1979-09-01(1) PIT @SFG W  5-3   1  1  0  0  0  0  0   0  0   0  0   0  0  0   0   0  0  0 9th LF P
 
   11 Wayne Granger     1970-05-01    CIN  PIT W  6-4   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th LF P
 
   12 Steve Blass       1968-08-31    PIT  ATL W  8-0   4  3  2  1  0  0  0   0  0   0  1   0  1  0       0  0  0 9th LF P
   13 Willie Smith      1968-08-27    CHC @SFG L  4-8   4  4  1  1  0  0  1   2  0   0  1   0  0  0   0   1  0  0 6th LF P
 
   14 Al McBean         1965-08-18    PIT @HOU W  8-7   0  0  0  0  0  0  0      0      0   0  0  0          0  0 9th LF P
 
   15 Ruben Gomez       1957-08-04(1) NYG @CIN W  7-6   3  3  0  0  0  0  0   0  0   0  2   0  0  0   0

NOTE:  Some were actually full-time outfielders [in italics] who simply made a rare pitching appearance.

But, the historical record takes yet another backward leap of 51 years to 1906.

“The double switch is at least a century old; because early records are sparse, it is probably impossible to pin down who first used it. An early documented example took place in the game played by the New York Highlanders (the future Yankees) on August 2, 1906 in Detroit.” [http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Who_invented_the_double_switch#slide2]

On August 2, 1906, Player-Manager Clark Griffith brought himself in as a relief pitcher; he started the 8th inning in relief of Jack Chesbro and switched catcher Red Kleinow with Ira Thomas.

Rotating the batting order, Griffith inserted himself in the #8-slot where the starting catcher, Red Kleinow, was batting and replaced him with catcher, Ira Thomas, in the #9-slot, where Jack Chesbro, the departed pitcher had been batting.

Thus, Player-Manager Clark Griffith was apparently the first manager to employ the double-switch in Major league history.

Player-manager Clark Griffith brought himself in as a relief pitcher in the eighth inning, but put himself in the number eight spot in the order replacing the catcher; at the same time he brought in a new catcher in the pitcher’s number nine spot.

If this still sounds confusing, just remember the basics about the “double switch:”

  • It can only be used when a pitcher is being removed from the mound.
  • The removed pitcher usually takes up a defense position [usually OF, likely RF.]
  • The OF that the pitcher replaces leaves the game.
  • The departed OF leaves an opening in his slot in the batting order.
  • The new pitcher taking the mound needs a slot in the batting order.
  • The switch must be a double switch involving two players.

“The double switch is generally made to change the batting order. If the pitchers spot is due up the next inning switching two players allows the manager to decide which of the two will bat in the pitchers spot.”

Although the explanation of the “double switch” may still cause the reader  a “double take,” we have at least tracked down the latest hypothesis as to who was the first Major league manager to employ the “double switch.”

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Topics: Clark Griffith, Double Switch, Gene Mauch, Sparky Anderson

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  • John Finn Jr

    I remember in the late 70′s Billy Martin would take somebody like Ron Guidry off the mound, and put him at first base while a righthanded pitcher would come in for a batter or two. Because Guidry had not left the game, he could be moved back to pitcher afterward

  • Michael Macaulay-Birks

    another great, informative post…thanks Earl, baseball knowledge doesn’t form from osmosis….you are a glut of knowledge!