As someone who was born in the 1990s, and has been raised on AL baseball, I'm in favor of the designated hitter. However, pitchers hitting still has the occasional fun moment. Bartolo Colon's home run a few weeks ago might be the best moment of this season so far. In 1953, one Yankees' pitcher had quite an impressive day at the plate.
Vic Raschi made multiple All-Star Games as a pitcher for the Yankees, but his hitting wasn't exactly his strong suit. He was a career .184/.243/.217 hitter with 112 hits in his 10-year-career. The 1953 season was one of Raschi's worst at the plate. He hit .143/.182/.159 that year, good for a -6 OPS+. But for one day, his hitting was a bright spot.
On August 4, 1953, the Yankees were hosting the Tigers. That year, the Tigers gave up the most runs per game in the American League. Their 5.8 runs allowed per game was well ahead of the Philadelphia Athletics, who allowed the second most runs in the AL that year.
The Tigers' starting pitcher that day was Ted Gray. He had been an All-Star in 1950, but was having a fairly mediocre season in '53. After getting Mickey Mantle to ground into a double play in the first, Gray walked Yogi Berra to start the second. After two ground outs and two more walks, Raschi came to the plate with the bases loaded. Raschi singled to center field, scoring two runs to make it 2-0. Gil McDougald followed that with a home run, giving the Yankees a 5-0 lead after two innings.
In the third, the Yankees chased Gray from the game after starting the inning with a single and a walk. Dave Madison came in for him and got Hank Bauer to ground into a double play, which moved a runner over to third. However, he then allowed a single and two walks, scoring a run and loading the bases. For the second straight at-bat, Raschi came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. This time he doubled to left, clearing the bases, and making it 9-0. Another hit from McDougald scored him, and after three innings, it was 10-0 Yankees.
In the fourth, Madison got two quick outs to start the inning. He then allowed three straight singles and a walk, scoring a run. Once again, with two outs and the bases loaded, Raschi came to the plate. The Tigers brought in Dick Weik to face the clear threat that was Vic Raschi. Once again, the Yankees' pitcher singled to center, scoring two more runs. The Yankees now led 13-0, and Raschi had 7 RBI.
Raschi came to the plate one last time in the sixth inning. With the bases empty, he grounded out to end the inning. Art Schallock came in to pitch the seventh, meaning the ground out was the end of Raschi's day. His final line at the plate was 3-4 with 7 RBI. Meanwhile, he threw six shut out innings, having allowed just two hits and two walks. He finished with more hits at the plate than he allowed on the mound that day, and the Yankees wound up winning 15-0.
Raschi's three hits on August 4, 1953 matched his season total up to that point. After that day, he recorded just three more hits that season.
Vic Raschi was not a particularly good hitting pitcher, but for one day in 1953, he was the biggest threat in the Yankees' lineup.