Former New York Yankees Pitcher Larry Gowell Dies at 72

Larry Gowell

Former New York Yankees pitcher Larry Gowell has passed away at 72 years old. Gowell died while doing what he loved most playing golf with friends. His son Chad Holland has confirmed the passing of his father on May 11th.

Gowell’s Career

Most baseball fans will not remember Larry Gowell as his baseball career as a pitcher only lasted two games. But Gowell does have a very significant stat in his career. Gowell pitched in two games for the Yankees in 1972. His career stats are 0-1 with a 1.29 ERA and a .714 WHIP with seven strikeouts in seven innings.

But his career should be remembered for what he did as a hitter. A lot of fans do not remember a time when the American League did not use the Designated Hitter. Let’s face it that rule was implemented 47 years ago and I myself was not even born yet. But as we are possibly entering the era where the Designated Hitter will be universal Gowell should be remembered more for than one at-bat.

Gowell’s Legacy

On October 4th, 1972 Larry Gowell stepped up to the plate to face Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jim Lonborg. No one could have known including Gowell how significant this at-bat would become.

As posted in the Daily News according to a Yankees blog on Fansided Gowell talked about the at-bat.

“I know when I was standing in the on-deck circle and they called my name, I was super determined to give it all. I had to not make a fool out of myself and swing hard three times if the ball is around the plate.”

Gowell would rip a double and it would be the last regular-season hit by a pitcher before the Designated Hitter rule would be implemented in 1973. Gowell is not a beloved Yankee nor would he get the biggest cheers at old timer’s games but he is the answer to a trivia question that most fans don’t know.

The ball from that hit has been displayed in Cooperstown since November of 1996. In a more ironic twist, Gowell’s son has said that Gowell roomed with Ron Blomberg who was the first Designated Hitter in history.

Yankees PR director Marty Appel said that the career of Gowell was bittersweet. The Yankees liked his stuff but they could not work around his religious beliefs.

“He had major league stuff,” Appel said. “But he was a Seventh Day Adventist and couldn’t pitch on Friday and Saturday. Maybe if you are Greg Maddux, a team will work around that.”

“The Yankees tried to trade him to a team where that would work, but it couldn’t work there.”

Universal DH

There has been a lot of talk of the National League using the Designated Hitter in 2020. With the Coronavirus impacting MLB and just about everything else in the world a full 162 game schedule will not be played. If there is any MLB season at all.

The discussion is that the National League can adapt to the Designated Hitter for the 2020 season and possibly beyond. Still, the National League teams have not voted in favor of adopting the rule full-time. Whatever happens in the coming years it is looking more and more likely that the DH will be used in the National League for the shortened 2020 season. That’s if the boys get back on the field.

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