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Baseball's Trading Days are Upon Us

This is the time of year when baseball trade talk is all the rage. Where will Sammy Sosa be traded to? Will he be a Met? Will he be a Brave? Will he go to the Reds?

What about the Shawn Green for Raul Mondesi deal? Who made out better - the Dodgers or the Blue Jays?

Day after day in this baseball hot stove season we are treated to news of deals that have been made. The Cardinals picked up pitchers Pat Hentgen, 1996 AL Cy Young winner, and Paul Spoljaric from the Toronto Blue Jays for pitchers Lance Painter and Matt DeWitt, and catcher Alberto Castillo.

The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Kevin Orie from the Florida Marlins for a player to be named later. That was always the special route of Joe Garagiola who bragged, "I went through my baseball life as 'a player to be named later.' "

The 1999 baseball season is history but next year is kept in the forefront with trades, trade talk and rumors, and groundwork for future deals laid by GMs for the winter meetings Dec. 10-14 in Anaheim.

Most trades wind up uneventful or as someone said, "It all comes out when you wash the uniforms." But there have been a couple of deals through the years that were steals for some teams and big-time blunders for the others.

There are two such deals that stand out above all others.

On June 15, 1964, the St. Louis Cardinals sent Ernie Broglio, Bobby Shantz and Doug Clemens to the Chicago Cubs. In return, the Redbirds received Jack Spring, Paul Toth and a speedy runner named Lou Brock, who went on to become their franchise player. It was a steal for Cardinals and a big-time blunder for the Cubs.

On December 10, 1971, the New York Mets acquired third baseman Jim Fregosi from the California Angels for a young, hard-throwing pitcher named Nolan Ryan. It was a steal for the Angels and a big-time blunder for the Mets.

"The American League and the California Angels seemed like a million miles away," Ryan told me when I was writing "Throwing Heat," Ryan's autobiography. "I read that Gil Hodges (the manager then) approved the deal, that he wanted Jim Fregosi, and that he thought I was the starting pitcher he would miss the least."

How wrong he was.

And then there was November 18, 1954. The New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles began a trading binge that ended 15 days later. In all, seventeen players were involved, in one of the most massive trades in baseball history.

The Yankees received pitchers Don Larsen, Bob Turley, and Mike Blyzka. They also obtained catcher Darrell Johnson, first baseman Dick Kryhoski, shortstop Billy Hunter and outfielders Tim Fridley and Ted del Guercio. Baltimore obtained pitchers Harry Byrd, Jim McDonald, Bill Miller, catchers Gus Triandos and Hal Smith, second baseman Don Leppert, third baseman Kal Segrist, shortstop Willy Miranda and outfielder Gene Woodling.

Larsen went on to be an asset for the Yankees and pitched the only perfect game in World Series history. Turley was a sturdy starter for years. The rest just blended away underscoring baseball immortal Branch Rickey's slogan: "Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late."

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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