Oscar Gamble (Trading Card DB)

August 5, 1973: Oscar Gamble homers twice in Cleveland’s comeback win over Milwaukee

This article was written by Joseph Wancho

American League greats debate the designated hitter, 1973:

“It’s legalized manslaughter. The only thing preventing pitchers from throwing at hitters now is that they must come to bat themselves.”Carl Yastrzemski1

“I’m not sure the rule will do what it’s intended to do, and that is produce more hits and runs. It gives the pitcher more rest and makes him twice as tough.”Mickey Mantle2

“I think it’s great – it’s a change, and if there’s anything baseball needs, it’s a change.”Joe DiMaggio3


Oscar Gamble (Trading Card DB)The American League adopted the designated hitter rule in 1973 to boost offense, following several years of trial and experiment in various minor leagues. The National League held off on adopting the DH in regular season play until 2022. Players, fans, and managers disagreed then – and often continue to disagree – on the worth of the DH.4

The DH was commonly viewed as a tool to prolong the careers of aging players who could still hit, such as Rico Carty of the Texas Rangers and Orlando Cepeda of the Boston Red Sox, both in their mid-30s by 1973. But not every player who filled the DH role in 1973 fit that description.

The Cleveland Indians, managed by Ken Aspromonte, used a committee of nine in the DH’s inaugural season. Cleveland’s most frequent designated hitter was 23-year-old Oscar Gamble, a left-handed batter acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies as part of a four-player deal on November 30, 1972.

In early August 1973, Milwaukee visited Cleveland Stadium for a four-game weekend set, amid a tight race in the American League East. The Baltimore Orioles (56-46) and New York Yankees (60-50) were in a virtual tie for first place. The Detroit Tigers (57-49) trailed by a game and Boston (56-49) was 1½ games back.

On Friday, August 3, the Tribe took the series opener, 9-4. Gamble led the way with two home runs and three RBIs. The Brewers came back on Saturday night, breaking a ninth-inning tie with five runs and winning 9-4 as Pedro García, George Scott, and Joe Lahoud each knocked in two runs. John Briggs went 6-for-6 with two runs.

The teams concluded the series with an August 5 twin-bill at the lakefront stadium. In the first game, Jim Slaton (7-9, 3.97 ERA) opposed Cleveland’s Dick Bosman, who was 1-7 with a 5.40 ERA since coming to Cleveland in a trade with the Texas Rangers on May 10.

The Brewers (52-55) were seven games behind the Orioles (58-47), and Cleveland (40-70) was in the cellar, 20½ games out. No doubt local sports fans were starting to turn their attention to the training camps for the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns.

Cleveland scored first, in the bottom of the second inning. George Hendrick singled to left field and advanced to second base when Milwaukee left fielder John Briggs bobbled the baseball. Hendrick came home on a single to right by John Lowenstein.

Milwaukee tied the game, and then took the lead over the Indians via the long ball. García swatted his ninth home run to lead off the third inning and Porter cracked his 14th homer in the fourth to give Milwaukee a 2-1 lead.

With two outs in the bottom of the fifth frame, Gamble, batting second and serving as the designated hitter, evened matters when he homered off Slaton for his 16th home run of the season.          

Bosman had held the Brewers to two runs on five hits through six innings, but the top of the seventh inning proved to be his undoing. Bob Heise singled to left field. García sacrificed him to second base. Briggs was intentionally walked. Bob Coluccio tattooed Bosman’s last offering into the stands for a three-run home run and a 5-2 Brewers lead.

Aspromonte went to his bullpen and called on right-hander Ken Sanders. The veteran southpaw, who had appeared in 195 games in relief with the Brewers from 1970 through 1972, had just been claimed on waivers from the Minnesota Twins on August 3.

An error by second baseman Jack Brohamer and two walks loaded the bases for Milwaukee, but Tim Johnson grounded out, preventing the Brewers from extending their three-run lead.

Milwaukee maintained that advantage until the bottom of the eighth inning. Buddy Bell led off for Cleveland and smacked his 18th double off the fence in left field. Then Gamble pounded his 17th home run of the season, cutting the deficit to 5-4.

After Chris Chambliss flied out to center field for the first out of the inning, Slaton walked Charlie Spikes. One out later, Lowenstein ripped a liner to center field. The ball took a crazy hop and eluded Dave May’s glove. As the ball rolled to the fence, Spikes scored and Lowenstein motored to third base for a triple.5

Crandall brought in veteran lefty Chris Short to face Brohamer. Aspromonte sent up righty pinch-hitter John Ellis, and Crandall called for an intentional walk. When Aspromonte summoned Walt Williams to bat for rookie catcher Alan Ashby, Crandall responded with rookie right-hander Eduardo Rodríguez, who retired Williams on a groundout to squelch the Indians’ rally and keep the score tied at 5-5.

The Brewers did not score in the top of the ninth. In the bottom of the inning, Rodríguez, still pitching for Milwaukee, plunked leadoff batter Frank Duffy. The Brewers correctly guessed that Duffy might steal and called for a pitchout, but Duffy was safe when Porter’s throw to second was in the dirt. Bell followed with a groundball to second. García failed to field the ball and it got through to the outfield. Duffy stopped at third. With runners at the corners. Gamble was given an intentional pass, bringing Chambliss to the plate. He sent a grounder to shortstop, and Johnson bobbled the ball. His throw home was too late to get Duffy and the Indians came away with a 6-5 victory.  

Gamble highlighted the Indians’ offense. He was 3-for-4 with two runs scored, three RBIs, two home runs and a double. Gamble seemed to settle in as Cleveland’s designated hitter, especially against right-handed pitchers. He had not worn a glove in a game since July 11. “I pull the ball against right-handers,” said Gamble.6 He admitted that facing a left-hander at this part of the season would seem like spring training since he faced them so infrequently.7  

Sanders was credited with the win in relief. Rodríguez gave up one unearned run and was charged with the loss.

In the second game of the doubleheader, Cleveland’s Brent Strom won his second game of the year with a 4-1 complete game. Hendrick hit his 21st home run and Gamble went 2-for-2 with an RBI. It was a productive series for Gamble. In four games he was 8-for-15 with four home runs, seven RBIs, and four runs scored. 

Cleveland won three of four games from the Brewers in the weekend series. Despite this brief showing of success, the Indians (71-91) finished in last place in the AL East. Milwaukee (74-88) finished fifth, three games ahead of Cleveland.

Gamble batted .259 with 13 home runs and 26 RBIs in 255 at-bats covering 70 games at DH in 1973. He spent two seasons primarily at DH before the Indians moved him to left field in 1975. Gamble subsequently served as the most used DH on the 1977 Chicago White Sox and 1982 Yankees. He went on to hit 200 home runs in his 17-season major-league career.



This article was fact-checked by Bill Marston and copy-edited by Len Levin. The author would like to thank SABR member Gary Belleville for his help with this article.



The author accessed Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org for box scores and play-by-play:





1 Harold Kaese and Shirley Povich, “Is the Designated Pinch-Hitter Rule Good for Baseball,” Baseball Digest, April 1973: 43.

2 Kaese and Povich, 41.

3 Kaese and Povich, 41.

4 John Cronin, “The Historical Evolution of the Designated Hitter Rule,” SABR Baseball Research Journal, Vol. 45, No. 2 (2016), https://sabr.org/journal/article/the-historical-evolution-of-the-designated-hitter-rule/.

5 Lou Chapman, “Brewers Drop 2 to Tribe,” Milwaukee Sentinel. August 6, 1973: 4-2.

6 Dan Coughlin, “Batting Around,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 6, 1973: 6-D.

7 Coughlin.

Additional Stats

Cleveland Indians 6
Milwaukee Brewers 5
Game 1, DH

Cleveland Stadium
Cleveland, OH


Box Score + PBP:

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1970s ·