June 24, 1973

In another example of Major League Baseball’s breakneck speed in decision making, proposals for inter-league play reached the conversation stage, though the volume was barely above that of a whisper.

Reports from inside commissioner Bowie Kuhn’s think-tank (with apologies to think-tanks that actually conjure deep thoughts) indicated support for that radical departure from tradition. It was rooted in the notion that the NFL belted a grand slam when it turned the American Football League into the American Football Conference, so MLB should do it, too.

At that point in history, football had just roared past baseball as the national pastime (according to TV ratings). MLB would never have admitted as much, but was sufficiently shameless to play the role of copy-cat

So they toyed with the idea of playing a half-dozen interleague games, based on geography. One idea included cutting six games from the 162-game season. Some folks wanted the National League to adopt the designated hitter, others wanted the American League to ditch the DH.

Ultimately, it took another 24 years for interleague play to happen. For once, MLB was right to do nothing but talk about it.

Since no one under the age of 35 knows any different, interleague play is ingrained in the game’s culture.

Take one curmudgeon’s word for it, kids: Having two distinct leagues, whose teams never played one another except in the World Series, was better.


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