Baseball question: Origin of Double Switch

Does anybody know the origin of the now popular baseball strategy of the double switch? Settlement of a bar discussion hangs in the balance.

To the uninitiated, a “double switch” occurs when a team wants to change pitchers in the middle of an inning and because the pitcher’s spot is due to bat in the next half inning, a new position player is brought into the game at the same time as when the new pitcher is brought in, and the new pitcher and the new position player exchange places in the batting order.

My memory is that the double switch was popularized first by Whitey Herzog when he was managing the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1980s but I don’t have a cite for that. Any help would be appreciated.

I don’t think you can get a definite answer to this question. I’ve been watching baseball since the late 1960’s, and there were always a few double switches, although they are much more common today. The strategy is so obvious, however, that I don’t think you can prove that any one manager invented it or “popularized” it. Managers who were ahead of the curve in making a lot of pitching changes, and juggling relief pitchers based on matchups and workload, tended to make more double switches, but Herzog was by no means the first or the only one.

The first documented case of a double switch being used in a World Series game was in 1962.

Check out the Top of the 9th inning.

I would not be surpised if Casey Stengel used it frequently with the Yankees. His Yankee teams always had deep benches.

Case did a lot of platooning & changing of pitchers, but as a long time Yankee fan, I have no memory of double switches, not even when he managed the Mets. They had a big bench too, & could have often used a whole team switch from 62-66.

I remember thinking it would be a good strategy in the 50s, but no one used it as far as I know. I became aware of it in the 70s, but it was likely used at least occasionally before that. Of course, in the 50s, starting pitchers were still expected to mostly be there at the finish. I think there is something about this in Bill James’ Historical Abstract.

Speaking of strategies (or rather tactics) that I have never seen but seem obvious, try this. Runner on third, less than 2 out, batter hits fly to shallow outfield, runnder backs up ten feet and on signal from 3rd base coach takes off a half second before the ball is caught (this will have to be well-practiced) so that he hits 3rd base at full speed just as the ball is caught and comes home to score. I can see nothing in the baseball rules that would forbid this (though maybe they would make a rule banning it if it were ever tried).

It’s an old strategy but the frequency of its use has definitely risen as the number of relief pitchers has risen. After all, in the days when pitchers completed most games, the issue just wouldn’t have come up.

The running start on the fly ball actually has been outlawed in baseball. Rule 7.10

Gene Mauch with some really bad Phillies teams and Alvin Dark with the Giants are credited by a lot of people with making the double switch a popular strategy, but neither did it first.