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Baseball Prospectus: Collateral Damage The Disabled List - A History


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Between 1917 and 1941, injured players were sent home to recuperate and then expected to report back when healthy. Teams could also place injured players on Suspended or Voluntary Retired lists; owners loved this because it meant that players were taken off the roster and didn?t get a salary, nor were they allowed to sign with any other team. It took until 1941 for a disabled list similar to the one we have now to be instituted. Initially, only two players could be on the disabled list at the same time, and they had to spend at least 60 days on it. Teams were also restricted because they could not place anyone on the disabled list after August 1.
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In 1950, the amount of time players had to spend on the DL was reduced to 30 days, which meant that the list was used more often. The length of a trip to the DL has constantly evolved; there have been 10-, 15-, 21-, 30-, and 60-day versions. To make the varied lengths of disabled lists even more confusing, the 30-day and 60-day versions were sometimes called the emergency lists because of the severity of the injuries. Prior to August 1990, teams were only allowed to have two players, including only one pitcher, on the 15-day disabled list, three on the 21-day DL, and one on the 30-day DL.**

The 15-day disabled list first appeared in 1966.

I guess if you had to be out 30 days, that would keep the DL trips down too. And some guys would be playing hurt.

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