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In baseball, a pinch hitter is a common term for a substitute batter. Batters can be substituted in at any time while the ball is dead; the manager may use any player that has not yet entered the game as a substitute. This is called defensive substitution. The player that is removed from the game cannot return into the game to play for the rest of the game. Pinch hitters are often used to replace a starting player when they are thought to have a better chance of reaching base or helping other runners to score.

In the National League of North America's Major League Baseball, the Pacific League in Japan, and various other Minor leagues the pitcher is often pinch hit for in the middle or late innings of a game. This is because pitchers are often poor hitters and get tired after six to seven innings of pitching. Often this use of a pinch hitter is part of a double switch, in which a relief pitcher replaces a defensive player who will not bat soon, and a defensive player replaces the former starting pitcher that is currently up to bat. This strengthens the lineup in the short term by preventing the relief pitcher from batting and allowing a better hitter to bat. Nearly all other leagues use the designated hitter rule in which pitchers seldom bat, removing a possible situation where a pinch hitter may be desired.

All Time Pinch Hit Leaders (updated on Feb 1, 2006)[]

  • Active players are denoted in Bold
  • Lenny Harris: 212
  • Manny Mota: 150
  • Smoky Burgess: 145
  • Greg Gross: 143
  • Dave Hansen: 137
  • John Vander Wal: 129
  • José Morales: 123
  • Jerry Lynch: 116
  • Mark Sweeney: 117
  • Red Lucas: 114
  • Steve Braun: 113
  • Terry Crowley: 108
  • Denny Walling: 108
  • Gates Brown: 107
  • Mike Lum: 103
  • Jim Dwyer: 103
  • Rusty Staub: 100
  • Dave Clark: 96
  • Larry Biittner: 95
  • Vic Davalillo: 95
  • Gerald Perry: 95
  • Jerry Hairston: 94
  • Dave Philley: 93
  • Joel Youngblood: 93
  • Jay Johnstone: 92
  • Dave Magadan: 92
  • Elmer Valo: 90

Pinch hits Records All-Time[]

  • Most Pinch Hit At-bats: 804-Lenny Harris
  • Most Pinch Hits: 212-Lenny Harris
  • Most Pinch-hit Grand Slams: 3-Rich Reese, Willy McCovey, Ron Northey
  • Most Pinch-hit Home Runs: 20- Cliff Johnson

Pinch hits Records Single Season[]

  • Most Pinch Hit At-bats: 83 in 2001-Lenny Harris
  • Most Pinch Hit Games: 95 in 2001-Lenny Harris
  • Most Pinch Hits: 28 in 1995-John Vander Wal[1]
  • Most Consecutive Pinch Hits: 8 in 1958 by Dave Philley and in 1983 by Rusty Staub
  • Most Pinch-hit Home Runs: 7 in 2000 by Dave Hansen and 2001 by Craig Wilson
  • Most Pinch-hit RBIs: 25 in 1943 by Joe Cronin, 1961 by Jerry Lynch, 1983 by Rusty Staub
  • Most Pinch-hit Walks: 20 in 1999- Matt Franco


The major league record for pinch-hit home runs during a doubleheader is two (2), which has only been accomplished twice: Joe Cronin with the Boston Red Sox on June 17, 1943 and Hal Breeden with the Montreal Expos on July 13, 1973.

The following players have been called into a game and hit a pinch-hit home run during their first ever Major League at-bat:

American League

Ace Parker Philadelphia 04-30-1937 9th Inning

John Kennedy Washington 09-05-1962 6th Inning

Gates Brown Detroit 06-19-1963 5th Inning

Bill Roman Detroit 09-30-1964 7th Inning

Brant Alyea Washington 09-12-1965 6th Inning

Joe Keough Oakland 08-07-1968 8th Inning

Al Woods Toronto 04-07-1977 5th Inning

Andy Phillips New York 09-26-2004 8th inning

National League

Bill Duggleby Philadelphia 4-21-1898

Eddie Morgan St. Louis 04-14-1936 7th Inning

Les Layton New York 05-21-1948 9th Inning

Ted Tappe Cincinnati 09-14-1950 8th Inning

Chuck Tanner Milwaukee 04-12-1955 8th Inning

Marlon Anderson Philadelphia 09-08-1998 7th inning

Gene Stechschulte St. Louis 04-17-2001 6th inning

Mike Jacobs New York 08-21-2005 5th inning

Jeremy Hermida Florida 09-01-2005 7th inning

Three teams are tied for the record number of pinch-hitters during a nine-inning game, with 9: the Los Angeles Dodgers (versus the St. Louis Cardinals on September 22, 1959), the Montreal Expos (versus the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 5, 1975), and the Atlanta Braves (versus the Montreal Expos on September 21, 1993). Naturally, all three games were in September, when major-league rosters expand from 25 to 40 players.

  • Other notable players who have batted as pinch hitting specialists in their careers include:

Popular Culture[]

Outside the two sports mentioned above, the term pinch hitter is increasingly used in American popular culture to mean a substitute person.


See also[]

  1. "In A Pinch", New York Times, Sept 17, 2006, p. Sports p. 2.