Contact Hitter (1964)

“Darrell [sic] Griffith, who strangely has found hitting the easiest art to master in the majors while throwing continues to puzzle him, is another example of a contact hitter. Often he simply lays his bat out in front of the pitch and places smoothly stroked liners into clear ground.” Joe Hendrickson, “Dodger Mates Showing Howard How It’s Done,” Independent Star-News (Pasadena, CA), July 19, 1964, pC-2

NOTE: In this column, Hendrickson suggests Frank Howard could be a much better hitter if he would slow down his swing to make contact. (“….his average will be .300 and he will have even more homers than he is getting while trying to rip the cover off the ball.”) The column focuses initially on John Roseboro who, Hendrickson says, explains how he is hitting over .300, which he has never done in the majors, by saying “I’m just concentrating on contact and hoping the hits fall.” (Roseboro would finish the season with a career-high .287 average. Derrell — not Darrell — Griffith hit .290 that year, his only full season in the majors. Howard, who hit a career-low .226 that year, was traded to Washington after the season; he never hit .300 but ended up with a higher lifetime average — .273 — than either of his former teammates.)

No earliest use given in 2009 Dickson Baseball Dictionary