AThis is the time of year when baseball trade talk is all the rage. Where will Chris Sale wind up? What about Andrew McKutchen? And there are other “name” players out there rumored to be on the move like Justin Verlander, Ryan Braun, Justin Turner and others.
Day after day in this baseball hot stove season we are treated to news of deals that have been made and others that might be made.
And all else fails there is always the special route of Joe Garagiola who bragged, "I went through my baseball life as 'a player to be named later.' "
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."