We Phillies fans are on the verge of incompetence from the front office yet again, so it’s worth looking back on Bill Giles, former owner and president of the Phillies Ruly Carpenter, the meeting that could have given the National League the DH, and the mistake that took place.
In the summer of 1980, there was a meeting. John Claiborne, the then-GM of the Cardinals, was making a push for the NL to adopt the designated hitter. So, it was decided that executives from all of the National League clubs would come together at a meeting and vote on it. A simple majority (seven “yes” votes of the twelve clubs) was needed to adopt the rule.
Ruly Carpenter, Bill Giles, and the Phillies decided they would vote “yes” to adopt the rule, because they wanted to use Greg Luzinksi and Keith Moreland (two bats that weren’t so great with a glove) as their DH. So Bill Giles entered the meeting with instructions from his boss to vote “yes,” and Ruly Carpenter went fishing.
However, at the meeting it was announced that the rule change, if adopted, wouldn’t go into effect until the 1982 season. Bill Giles, instead of just assuming Carpenter would also support that, didn’t want to vote “yes” or “no,” in case it would have been out of line with their plans. After attempts to reach Carpenter failed, Giles abstained (which, not being a “yes” vote is basically the same as a no). The Pittsburgh Pirates, always trendsetters, had been instructed to vote the way the Phillies did, so they also abstained. So did Houston, for whatever reason.
The final tally then was four “yes” votes, five “no” votes, and three abstentions. John Claiborne, the main push for the DH, said he would bring it to the table every six months. Claiborne was fired five days later and the issue was never brought to a vote again. So the next time someone asks you why the NL doesn’t have the DH, you can tell them it’s because Bill Giles got a little nervous.