Offseason blockbusters:  October (Part one:  1907-1970)

You may recall a series of articles from 2006 in which we examined all of the biggest trades that have occurred during seasons past. Well, now that the 2007 regular season is finished, how about if during this off-season we take a similar monthly inventory of the very biggest trades that have taken place over the years from October until Opening Day.

Offseason trades are a slightly different animal than midseason trades, of course. The trading partners are freed of the roster-management complications that prevail during an ongoing campaign, and as such it’s been during the offseason that the really enormous multi-player swaps have tended to occur. Moreover, precisely because teams have no priority during the offseason except for overhauling/fine-tuning the roster in preparation for next year, offseason trades have tended to be more numerous than the mid-season variety.

Given that we have such a large quantity of deals to potentially consider, we’re going to have to exercise some discipline regarding the deals that will qualify for inclusion. Here’s what the ground rules will be:

– We’re talking about trades here, and only trades. No draft picks (expansion, Rule 5, or otherwise), no free agent signings, and no straight-up cash sales. Fascinating as drafts and signings and sales can often be, none offers the talent-for-talent exchange aspect of a trade, and thus neither is quite as interesting to consider in terms of the talent judgment aspect on the part of both (and occasionally three or four) teams making the trade.

– We’re talking about blockbusters here, not just any old trade. As we did in our midseason series, we’ll define a blockbuster as a trade involving at least one player who was, if not a full-fledged star, at least a prominent, established regular, either at or reasonably near the peak of his career. So a trade involving a Hall of Famer in his final phase, such as, say, Hank Aaron getting shuttled back to Milwaukee for a victory lap, won’t be included. Nor will one involving just some kids, one of whom later blossoms into a big star, such as Johan Santana getting traded for a fellow prospect at the age of 19. To be included here, a trade has to have been perceived as a talent-for-talent blockbuster at the time it was made—these deals were all on the front page of the sports section for the teams involved, and many were front-page news across the country.

This month’s edition will look at blockbusters occurring in the month of October (with a couple of close exceptions, which we’ll see). Perhaps not surprisingly, this list isn’t nearly as long as those we’ll be scrutinizing in the months ahead; generally teams have waited until deeper into the off-season to pull the trigger on the big-gun trades. But there have been more than a few whoppers.

October 7, 1907: The New York Giants traded first baseman Dan McGann, shortstop Bill Dahlen, outfielder George Browne, catcher Frank Bowerman, and pitcher George Ferguson to the Boston Doves for shortstop Al Bridwell, first baseman Fred Tenney, and catcher Tom Needham.

John McGraw’s Giants had fallen to a distant fourth place in 1907, and the Little Napoleon took swift action in response. The key was Bridwell, a 23-year-old who hadn’t yet hit a lick at the major league level, but whose glove was such that McGraw sought him as the replacement for Dahlen, a longtime star now in decline at age 37. McGann and Tenney were both 35, still doing all right but with their best days behind them, and Bowerman and Needham were journeymen. The Doves (they’d long been the Beaneaters, and would eventually become known as the Braves) drove a hard bargain, requiring McGraw to include a starting outfielder (Browne) and a good-looking young pitcher (Ferguson) before extending the handshake.

McGraw would get what he wanted. Tenney would have only a couple of years left, but Bridwell’s bat would blossom in New York, and he would give McGraw several years as a first-rate shortstop, as the Giants bounced back into strong contention.

October 30, 1922: The Detroit Tigers traded pitchers Howard Ehmke and Carl Holling, infielder Danny Clark, minor league first baseman-outfielder Babe Herman, and $25,000 cash to the Boston Red Sox for second baseman Del Pratt and pitcher Rip Collins.

Red Sox owner Harry Frazee was guilty of orchestrating a long series of scandalously blundering deals in this period, ransoming off his once-rich roster in a blatantly greedy cash grab. But though this deal includes the customary “$25,000 cash” element, it really wasn’t a bad trade from the Boston perspective.

Pratt had been a significant star for a long time, but he would be 35 for the 1923 season. Collins had put together a solid year in 1922 at age 26, but he certainly didn’t appear to have star ability. In return, in addition to the 25 grand, the Red Sox received Ehmke, not quite a star through age 28 but a dependable workhorse, clearly a better pitcher than Collins. They also got some roster filler in Holling and Clark, and an intriguing 19-year-old prospect in Herman. All in all it was a sound trade for a second-division ball club to make.

It made more sense for Boston than it did for the Tigers, who were on the fringe of contention and obviously betting that Pratt would help them more than Ehmke. But Collins would prove to be no replacement for Ehmke, and Pratt would get hurt (as 35-year-olds are prone to do), and the deal would fizzle for Detroit.

Ehmke would emerge as a star, one of Boston’s very few bright spots in the bleak seasons to come. But, these being the Red Sox after all, they didn’t have the wisdom to hang onto the kid Herman, and when he found big-hitting stardom a few years later it would be in a Brooklyn Robins uniform.

October 27, 1924: The Chicago Cubs traded second baseman George Grantham, pitcher Vic Aldridge, and first baseman Al Niehaus to the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Wilbur Cooper, infielder Rabbit Maranville, and first baseman Charlie Grimm.

There was a whole lot of talent changing sides here, and it strongly appeared as though the Cubs were getting the better of it. Indeed, it’s hard to figure out just what the Pirates were attempting to accomplish: they’d just finished a strong third, at 90-63 and three games out of first, and here they surrendered one of the better aces in baseball in Cooper, the brilliant defensive middle infielder Maranville, and their regular first baseman in Grimm, who hadn’t yet hit consistently well but he’d only just turned 26 and was strong with the glove. In return they got Grantham, who was a fine young hitter but whose nickname of “Boots” might tell you something about his defensive ability (indeed the Pirates would immediately slide him over to first base), Aldridge, a solid pitcher but no Cooper, and Niehaus, a grade-B prospect.

The Incompleat Starting Pitcher
The end of the nine-inning start and how we got here.

In fact the Pirates seemed to know what they were doing. While Aldridge was a step down from what Cooper had been delivering, he would be good. Grantham, platooning at first base as we saw here, would deliver splendid offense, and manager Bill McKechnie would have a utility man named Eddie Moore take over for Maranville at second base and do just fine. Pittsburgh would win the pennant in 1925, their first since 1909. Meanwhile in Chicago, at age 33 Cooper would rapidly decline, and Maranville would miss half the ’25 season with a broken leg; despite a decent year from Grimm, the Cubs would fall from 81-72, fifth place, to 68-86, last.

October 7, 1925: The Brooklyn Robins traded catcher Zack Taylor, outfielder Eddie Brown, and infielder Jimmy Johnston to the Boston Braves for pitcher Jesse Barnes, outfielder Gus Felix, and catcher Mickey O’Neil.

Brooklyn’s Wilbert Robinson was putting a whole lot of faith on the 33-year-old Barnes rebounding to his onetime star status, because from every other angle his Robins were giving up more than they were getting here. Felix and O’Neil were journeymen, not equal to the solid regulars Taylor and Brown.

Barnes would indeed prove to be just about through, and the Braves would win the deal.

October 14, 1930: The Brooklyn Robins traded pitchers Jumbo Jim Elliott and Clise Dudley, outfielder Hal Lee, and cash to the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder Lefty O’Doul and second baseman Fresco Thompson.

Like the 1922 Red Sox deal above, this is the sort of trade that made sense for a tail-end ball club such as the Phillies: selectively convert market-attractive assets into younger talent, to build for a better future. O’Doul and Thompson were just such assets: O’Doul was a star hitter, but a poor fielder and well past 30, and Thompson had been a solid second baseman for a few years but had been nagged by injuries at age 28.

In practice, of course, the key is to receive meaningful young talent in return. In this case the Phillies didn’t do great, but they did okay: Elliott was a 30-year-old journeyman, but he would surprise with a big year for the Phils in 1931. Dudley was a so-so prospect, but he would do all right in ’31, and Lee was a prospect who would eventually develop into a useful regular left fielder.

October 10, 1932: The New York Giants traded pitchers Bill Walker and Jim Mooney, outfielder Ethan Allen, and catcher Bob O’Farrell to the St. Louis Cardinals for catcher Gus Mancuso and pitcher Ray Starr.

Both the Giants and Cards had suffered big dropoff seasons in 1932, and were thus ready to shake things up. This deal was basically the Cardinals shoring up their depth with sound-but-unspectacular talent, in exchange for the Giants getting ahold of Mancuso, one of the better young catchers in the game.

The Giants were eager to get Mancuso because they’d lost patience with their incumbent catcher, Shanty Hogan. Though Mancuso was three months older than Hogan, by this point it appeared as though the growing-ever-more-portly Hogan’s best days were already behind him, while Mancuso’s were yet to come. That would prove to be the case, and Mancuso would be a key factor in the Giants bouncing back to win three pennants over the next five seasons.

October 26, 1934: The Boston Red Sox traded shortstop Lyn Lary and $225,000 cash the the Washington Senators for shortstop-manager Joe Cronin.

Obviously this was primarily a sale, not a trade, one of many executed by young Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey as he merrily tapped into his vast inheritance to revitalize the once-proud franchise. But Lary was no token throw-in: he was a fleet-footed shortstop who’d shown excellent promise a few years earlier with the Yankees, before suddenly struggling with the bat. He would pull his stroke back together, and deliver several more fine years as a regular.

October 8, 1936: The St. Louis Cardinals traded first baseman Ripper Collins and pitcher Roy Parmelee to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Lon Warneke.

The Cards could afford to part with the 32-year-old Collins, who’d been a star, because of the emergence of young Johnny Mize. But did the Cubs ever pay a hefty price to get Collins, along with the okay-but-nothing-special Parmelee: Warneke was one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Collins would prove to be in decline, and Parmelee in a downward spiral, while Warneke would go on to deliver several outstanding seasons for the Cardinals. Put this was one on the extremely long list of shrewd deals pulled off by Branch Rickey.

September 30, 1946: The Boston Braves traded infielders Billy Herman and Whitey Wietelmann, pitcher Elmer Singelton, and outfielder Stan Wentzel to the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder-third baseman Bob Elliott and catcher Hank Camelli.

The 1946 regular season concluded on Sunday, September 29th, so this truly was a post-season deal, though clearly it had been negotiated earlier.

Though he’d experienced an off-season as a 29-year-old in 1946, prior to that Elliott had been a consistently strong hitter since arriving in the majors in 1939. The offer the Pirates accepted for him here was quite meager: Herman had, of course, long been a star, but he was near the end of the line (and Pittsburgh was interested in him as a manager, not as a player), and Wietelmann, Singleton, and Wentzel were all marginal.

Elliott wouldn’t just rebound in Boston, he would soar to a whole new level: delivering home runs in a terrible home run park, as well as hitting for average, winning an MVP in 1947 and remaining a star for several years. Herman wouldn’t even last out the ’47 season as the Pittsburgh manager. This one stands as a giveaway of historic proportions.

October 11, 1946: The Cleveland Indians traded pitcher Allie Reynolds to the New York Yankees for second baseman Joe Gordon.

“Flash” Gordon had been a terrific offensive and defensive star for several years, but at the age of 31 in 1946 he’d encountered a dreadful season-long batting slump. Indians’ owner Bill Veeck bet that Gordon would forge a comeback, risking on the wager the 29-year-old Reynolds, who’d show flashes of excellence though he wasn’t quite a star.

The deal couldn’t have worked out better for either team. Gordon would bounce back for consecutive brilliant seasons, and would be indispensable to Cleveland’s 1948 championship. Reynolds would blossom into a superb pitcher in New York, and would remain so well into the 1950s.

October 25, 1955: The Chicago White Sox traded shortstop Chico Carrasquel and center fielder Jim Busby to the Cleveland Indians for center fielder Larry Doby.

The first black player in the American League was 31 years old in the 1955 season. Though Doby had lost a step, he remained a major all-around star, and thus Cleveland GM Hank Greenberg’s decision to ship him off to Chicago in exchange for this duo was highly curious.

Carrasquel was a solid shortstop, adequate with the bat and strong with the glove, but he didn’t represent all that big an upgrade over the Indians’ good-field-no-hit incumbent George Strickland. And while Busby was marvelous defensively, his hitting had yo-yoed between good and terrible, and 1956 had been one of the down strokes. Unless Greenberg had reason to expect Doby to begin a significant decline, it’s hard to see how his team was likely to be better off with Carrasquel/Busby instead of Strickland/Doby.

It wouldn’t, as Carrasquel and Busby would be so-so for the Indians, while Doby would be outstanding for the White Sox.

October 5, 1961: The Washington Senators traded pitcher Dick Donovan, catcher-outfielder Gene Green, and infielder Jim Mahoney to the Cleveland Indians for center fielder Jimmy Piersall.

It’s exceedingly rare to see a first-year expansion team indulging in a 3-for-1, especially in pursuit of a veteran. Yet that’s what Senators’ GM Ed Doherty conceived to be the right thing to do in their circumstance.

It wasn’t a bad idea for the Senators to put Donovan and Green on the trading block; they were veteran talents with clear market value. (Mahoney was a marginal throw-in.) But the notion that Washington should be expending precious trade-market assets on a player such as Piersall was laughable.

Piersall was a good ballplayer. But he was hardly a great one: He was better than Jim Busby, but not hugely so, a top-notch defensive center fielder with a bat that really wouldn’t cut it as a corner outfielder. And Piersall would be 32 years old for the 1962 season, and had been prone to nagging injuries for the past few years; all in all he was hardly a building block for a team just getting off the ground.

Unsurprisingly, Piersall would rapidly decline. Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Donovan would win 20 games, and Green would hit a ton in a utility role. For Cleveland GM Gabe Paul, who in his long career was always an eager trader but often not a wise one, score this as a big win.

October 17, 1962: The St. Louis Cardinals traded pitchers Larry Jackson and Lindy McDaniel and catcher Jimmie Schaffer to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder George Altman, pitcher Don Cardwell, and catcher Moe Thacker.

It’s easy to see why the Cardinals were hot for Altman: Big George and his big bat would fill their fight field hole perfectly. But good grief, GM Bing Devine surrendered a lot of pitching talent to get him; filling one hole by creating a deeper one someplace else doesn’t generally accomplish much.

Just to make it worse, Altman would be a dud in St. Louis. Fortunately for Devine, he was able to salvage this deal by flipping Cardwell for more than he was worth—which we’ll examine next month.

October 20, 1965: The St. Louis Cardinals traded third baseman Ken Boyer to the New York Mets for pitcher Al Jackson and third baseman Charley Smith.

October 27, 1965: The St. Louis Cardinals traded first baseman Bill White, shortstop Dick Groat, and catcher Bob Uecker to the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder Alex Johnson, catcher Pat Corrales, and pitcher Art Mahaffey.

Despite missing the strong arms of Jackson and McDaniel, the Cardinals had managed to capture a pennant in 1964. But they sagged badly in ’65, and new GM Bob Howsam showed no hesitation whatsoever in breaking apart the team’s core: here in the space of a week, three-quarters of his infield was gone.

The return Howsam got for Boyer was probably more than he was worth at this point: Jackson was a good pitcher, and Smith a serviceable replacement for Boyer at third. But the move with the Phillies was more of a simple space-clearer, as Johnson was the only real talent received, and even he had yet to establish himself as a big league regular. He would flop for the Cardinals, rendering that deal pretty much a giveaway.

October 8, 1967: The Atlanta Braves traded shortstop Denis Menke and pitcher Denny Lemaster to the Houston Astros for shortstop Sonny Jackson and first baseman Chuck Harrison.

October 10, 1967: The Atlanta Braves traded outfielder Mack Jones, pitcher Jay Ritchie, and first baseman-outfielder Jim Beauchamp to the Cincinnati Reds for first baseman-third baseman Deron Johnson.

The intense, highly intelligent Paul Richards had taken over as Atlanta GM in mid-1966, and with the Braves finishing a disappointing seventh in ’67, the Wizard of Waxahachie was quick to take action, executing two major trades before the World Series was over.

The logic of the first deal is clear, if not its wisdom. Richards wasn’t satisfied with Menke, who was an “offense first” mode of shortstop, a good hitter with limited range in the field. He preferred the style of Jackson, whom Richards had signed and developed when he was running the Houston operation: Jackson was just 23, a little guy with vastly more speed than Menke.

But following a fine rookie year in 1966, Jackson had slumped with the bat in ’67, and moreover, in the field he had great range but was highly error-prone, having committed 37 in ’66 and 35 in ’67, most in the majors both years. It wasn’t at all clear that on balance he was better than Menke. And the other half of the deal was a complete mismatch: Lemaster was a solid starter, while Harrison was a marginal talent, who would be farmed out by the Braves.

And the logic of the second deal isn’t even clear. A healthy Johnson was no better than Jones, and Johnson had suffered though a dreadful, injury-plagued 1967 season. The best case is that he would rebound, and the shift of incumbent first baseman Felipe Alou to center field to replace Jones would hold the Braves even.

They were strange deals, and neither would pan out at all. Both Jackson and Johnson would be dogged by injuries, and perform poorly for the Braves. In his long career, Richards had earned great respect for his ablility, but his 1966-72 Atlanta stint would erode that reputation.

October 11, 1968: The St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielder Bobby Tolan and pitcher Wayne Granger to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Vada Pinson.

The Cardinals went to the World Series in 1968, for the second straight year. They lost the seventh game to the Tigers on October 10th, and the very next day made this news. One presumes the deal had been negotiated earlier, but St. Louis GM Bing Devine (yes, he was back; owner Gussie Busch had his GMs in a revolving door in the mid-1960s) was waiting until the Series was over, win or lose, to announce the trade.

The wager here was on the question of whether the longtime star Pinson would rebound at age 30 from the leg trouble that had nagged him in 1968: Devine bet yes, and Reds’ GM Bob Howsam (that’s where he’d gone) bet no. Howsam would be proven correct, and moreover Tolan and Granger, who’d both shown promise in St. Louis, would immediately blossom as stars in Cincinnati.

October 7, 1969: The St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielders Curt Flood and Byron Browne, catcher Tim McCarver, and pitcher Joe Hoerner to the Philadelphia Phillies for infielder-outfielder Richie Allen, second baseman Cookie Rojas, and pitcher Jerry Johnson. (Flood refused to report to the Phillies. On April 8, 1970, the Cardinals sent first baseman-outfielder Willie Montañez and a player to be named later to the Phillies. On August 30, 1970, the Cardinals sent minor league pitcher Bob Browning to the Phillies, completing the deal.)

This one would have gone down as one of history’s mega-bombshells even if it didn’t include the secondary explosion of being the triggering event for Flood’s Reserve Clause lawsuit, that would make it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Because on its simple merits as a talent exchange, this one registered on the Richter Scale. At its epicenter was of course the prickly Allen (still going by “Richie” at this point), whose chronic sulks, insubordination, and general lassitude had finally caused the Phillies to do what Allen said he wanted them to do, namely trade him. Yet despite the heaping baggage cart Allen was hauling, his abundant ability was such that the Phils, packaging him with the meaningful talents Rojas and Johnson, were able to command quite a bounty.

For their part, GM Devine’s Cardinals were making it an essentially annual practice to jump directly into the trade market at the season’s conclusion. This deal bore more than a bit of resemblance to the St. Louis-Philadelphia trade Howsam had swung in October 1965, in that the Cardinals, frustrated at having fallen short with a team they felt was built to win, decisively re-tooled: Flood and McCarver had been central elements in the ball club’s entire run of 1960s success, and Hoerner its ace reliever since 1966.

Flood’s subsequent refusal to report would obviously vex the Phillies, who didn’t seem real thrilled with the replacements they eventually negotiated to receive: the obscure minor leaguers Montañez and Browning. Yet, as fate would have it, Montañez would eventually emerge as a fine player, in the long run the best performer the Phillies would garner out of the elaborate parlay.

October 5, 1970: The St. Louis Cardinals traded infielder-outfielder Richie Allen to the Los Angeles Dodgers for second baseman Ted Sizemore and catcher Bob Stinson.

Another season’s end, and yet another immediate and big Cardinal deal. And this one caused observers to utter a collective, “Huh?”

Despite Allen’s history of unruliness in Philadelphia, in St. Louis in 1970 there had been nary a rumor of problematic behavior on his part. And Allen had delivered a terrific performance on the field, blasting the most home runs by any Cardinal since Stan Musial way back in 1949, and leading the ball club in RBIs, despite missing most of the final six weeks with a hamstring injury.

Thus it was a stunner that not only were the Cardinals trading Allen, they appeared to be in a rush to unload him for whatever they could get. Why in the world was Devine so eager to accept this modest Dodgers’ offer of just Sizemore (a nice second baseman, but no star) and Stinson (a scrubeenie wannabee)? If Devine was intent on trading Allen anyway, why wouldn’t he at least hold off until deeper into the trading season, after shopping Allen around, finding out what other offers were out there and playing them off one another, instead of immediately settling on one as meager as this?

The official explanation the Cardinals offered was that the transaction had nothing to do with any behavioral issues regarding Allen, instead that it was simply part of an effort to re-shape the ball club’s mode of play, to tighten up the defense and instill a more contact-oriented, “slashing” style of offense. Well, o-o-okayy, most everyone responded, shrugging our collective shoulders, because there was hardly anyone in the world (including experts, casual fans, Tasmanian Aborigines, and reindeer herders in Lapland) who didn’t fully understand that Allen was incomparably more talented than Sizemore, and nearly guaranteed to generate more wins, mode of play be damned, if performance on the field was indeed all there was to it. Something smelled fishy.

The Dodgers were too ecstatic to notice any suspicious aroma. Their only thought was that Allen’s power was exactly what they needed to transform their ball club’s contact-oriented, “slashing” style of offense into something more robust: the Dodgers in 1970 had tied for the league lead in team batting average, had led the league in stolen bases by a wide margin, but had been last in home runs by a wide margin as well, and thus fourth in runs scored. Zander Hollander’s Complete Handbook of Baseball for that season put it this way:

The Dodgers needed one big, booming bat in 1970 as they made an aborted effort to catch the Reds, who had that huge early-season lead. Richie Allen is their man. The slugger, obtained from the Cardinals, could ignite new sparks in the Dodgers with his prodigious wallops and makes them a contending team…. he will be the big difference in their attack. The Dodgers haven’t had a blockbuster like this since the Snider-Campanella-Hodges days. With all that speed and good hitting in front of Allen, he should knock in 150 runs without half-trying.

We’ll pick up the Allen saga again in a couple of months.

October 9, 1970: The Detroit Tigers traded pitchers Denny McLain and Norm McRae, infielder-outfielder Elliott Maddox, and third baseman Don Wert to the Washington Senators for third baseman Aurelio Rodriguez, shortstop Ed Brinkman, and pitchers Joe Coleman and Jim Hannan.

Speaking of guys hauling cartloads full of baggage …

The Tigers were understandably fed up with Denny McLain’s antics, and were thus eager to trade him. In combination with the fact that McLain had pitched quite ineffectively in 1970 after returning from his half-season suspension, this would seem to have put Detroit in a weak bargaining position.

These fundamentals apparently never dawned on Senators’ owner Bob Short, who acted as his own GM despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that it was clear he didn’t really understand a whole lot about baseball. Short just had to have McLain, and surrendered this absurdly disproportionate package of talent to get the damaged goods.

Over the years since, I’ve often taken to amusing myself with fanciful imaginings of just what the hell the negotiation between Short and Detroit GM Jim Campbell might have been …

Campbell: “Hello, Bob, this is Jim Campbell, with the Tigers.”

Short: “Hi, Jim, how ya doin’?”

Campbell: “Fine, Bob, fine. Say, listen. I realize you’re aware of all that stuff about our guy Denny McLain. I’ll understand it, believe me, if you tell me you don’t want anything to do with him, but I’m just kind of calling around to find out what kind of interest clubs might have in making a trade for McLain, and—”

Short: “McLain! I’ll take him!”

Campbell: “What? Sorry, Bob, it sounded like you said, ‘I’ll take him!’ Ha! Ha! So, anyway, I was—”

Short: “I said, I’ll take him. What do you want for him?”

Campbell: “Well! Okay, then! Glad to hear it. What do we want for him? Well, Bob, I’ll be reasonable. I was thinking of some infield help, and maybe a pitcher to take Denny’s place on our staff. I’m not expecting you to offer me Frank Howard, or anything. Ha! Ha!”

Short: “Infielders, huh? We’ve got plenty. Let’s see … I’ll give you skinny Brinkman, and that Mexican third baseman of ours, what’s his name? Allie Ridergaz. How about him too.”

Campbell: “Um … Aurelio Rodriguez?”

Short: “Yeah, that’s the guy. You can take him. But wait: only if you give me that third baseman of yours.”

Campbell: “Our third baseman? Well, sure, but you know, Don Wert’s really not the ballplayer he was a few years ago—”

Short: “Don Wert! That’s the guy. Man, he’s a good one, isn’t he. I saw him make a great play on a bunt, last year, I think it was. Picked it up with his bare hand! Well, heck, I guess maybe I shouldn’t insist on him.”

Campbell: “Oh, no! That’s fine, Bob. I think we could probably work Wert into this—”

Short: “Great! Okay, you said you needed pitchers, too. Let’s see … how about Jim Coleman, and that other guy, Joe Hannan. Would you take them?”

Campbell: “Um … Joe Coleman, and Jim Hannan?”

Short: “Isn’t that what I said?”

Campbell: “Uh, yeah. Yeah! Coleman and Hannan! That’d be fine, Bob. We could do that.”

Short: “So, wait a second, now. You don’t think you’re going to bleed me dry here, do you?”

Campbell: “Well, no Bob, of course not. You suggested those two pitchers, so I—”

Short: “Here’s what I’m getting at. I’m giving you four guys, right? Brinkman, Ardreegiss, Hannan, and Coleman. That’s one, two, three, four guys. And all I’ve got from you so far is two guys, McLain and Wert. That won’t fly.”

Campbell: “Well, to be honest, Bob, I did think there might be another shoe to drop, here. Heh-heh … but, you know, we really aren’t ready to part with Lolich; he’s—”

Short: “Lolich? Ha! No, I don’t want him. Too fat. No, what I’m saying is, four-for-two just isn’t square. I need you to, you know, pony up! Give me two more guys, make it a fair four-for-four thing.”

Campbell: “Okay! That’s fine. Which two guys did you have in mind, though?”

Short: “Oh, I don’t know, Jim. Let me see … another pitcher and another infielder, I guess, to really even it out.”

Campbell: “Well, that sounds—”

Short: “I’ve got your roster right in front of me here, Jim. I pulled it out of my file drawer, handy-dandy, just as we were talking on the phone, here. So, let’s see … right next to McLain on your list of pitchers is this guy McRae. Is he any good?”

Campbell: “Norm McRae? Well, he’s just a kid, but we think he’s a fine prospect, and—”

Short: “Okay, sold! He’s who we want. And let me see here, your infielders … you’ve got this guy, Elliott Maddox. I heard Ted say one time that he liked that kid’s swing, or something. Can you give me Maddox too?”

Campbell: “Um … yeah! Maddox it is!”

Short: “All right then! It’s a deal. I’ll telex it in to the league office, as soon as we hang up here. And then I’ll call the papers and the TV. Hot damn! I’ve got Denny McLain. What do you wanna bet I can have us on the evening news tonight, Jim!”

Next Time

We follow the trail of October wheelings and dealings to the present day.

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