This Day in Baseball Trade History – April 5

What were the most notable baseball trades to happen on this day?

With the luxury of hindsight, it’s fun to look back and see what transactions worked out or didn’t, or maybe even changed baseball history.

Looking at transactions on this date over at B-R, I spotted three notable ones to talk about.

1977 – The New York Yankees traded Bob Polinsky (minors), Oscar Gamble, LaMarr Hoyt and $200,000 to the Chicago White Sox for Bucky Dent.

This trade set to stage for future success for both teams. Bucky Dent was a young shortstop entering his 5th season at age 25. To this point in his career, he had accumulated just 2.0 WAR, including -2.2 dWAR of which -1.2 dWAR had been tallied the previous season. So, not an obvious choice as a starting SS for the defending AL champions. The Yankees, though, were still seaching for their next shortstop to succeed Gene Michael, having tried out Jim Mason and Fred Stanley the previous 3 seasons. Whether by shrewdness or luck, things worked out well for New York  – from 1977 to 1981 Dent delivered 12.1 WAR including a nifty 7.3 dWAR, backstopping the Yankees to 3 pennants and 2 world championships. Oh, and you may recall that he also hit a rather important home run on the last day of the 1978 season.

For the White Sox, Hoyt was still two years away from his major league debut, starting out as a swing man, then a middle reliever/closer, and finally, starting in 1982, as a fixture in the White Sox rotation. Hoyt won 19 in 1982 and then 24 in 1983 as he won the Cy Young award, leading the ChiSox to the AL West title and their first post-season appearance in 24 years. Hoyt’s career 1.91 BB/9 ranks among the top 20 career marks (min. 1000 IP) since 1969.

1972 – The Montreal Expos traded Rusty Staub to the New York Mets for Tim Foli, Mike Jorgensen and Ken Singleton.

This trade served both teams well in the sense that all the players involved were regulars on their new teams for at least the next 3 seasons. However, Staub, after delivering 18.1 WAR in his 3 seasons in Montreal, disappointed in New York with only 6.5 WAR (including -4.0 dWAR in right field) in his 4 years with the Mets. 

Foli would be a dependable shortstop for the Expos, finishing in the top 4 in range factor among NL shortstops for each of his 6 seasons in Montreal, including 1st or 2nd for 3 straight years. Jorgensen was also a capable defensive player, earning the 1973 NL gold gove for 1st basemen, and providing a 156 OPS+ season in 1974. In his 5 seasons in Montreal,  Jorgensen’s OBP was at least 95 points higher than his BA every year, including 4 seasons with a spread of over 100 points. Singleton had 3 solid years for the Expos, highlighted by his 148 OPS+, 5.8 WAR season in 1973 that kept the Expos in the pennant race (or turtle derby, perhaps) until the final weekend of the season. Unfortunately for Montreal, they would make an awful trade after the 1974 season, gifting the Orioles with Singleton and Mike Torrez, in exchange for  Bill Kirkpatrick, Rich Coggins and a spent Dave McNally.

Ironically, the Expos helped out the Mets to secure the NL East title in 1973. Going into the final weekend, 5 of the 6 teams were still in the hunt. The defending NL East champion Pirates were just 1.5 games back, but dropped out of the chase after losing 2 of 3 to the Expos at home. The Mets were rained out at Wrigley on Friday and Saturday, then split a double-header on Sunday, eliminating the Expos and Cubs, but leaving the Cardinals just a game back. The season was extended for the Mets and Cubs to conclude their 4-game set, but just one more contest was needed as Tom Seaver beat Burt Hooton to clinch the division flag. 

1957 – The New York Yankees traded a player to be named later, Rip Coleman, Milt Graff, Billy Hunter, Mickey McDermott, Tom Morgan and Irv Noren to the Kansas City Athletics for players to be named later, Wayne Belardi, Art Ditmar, Jack McMahan and Bobby Shantz. The New York Yankees sent Jack Urban (April 5, 1957) to the Kansas City Athletics to complete the trade. The Kansas City Athletics sent Curt Roberts (April 4, 1957) and Clete Boyer (June 4, 1957) to the New York Yankees to complete the trade.

I mention this trade only as an example of the Kansas City-New York shuttle that went on between these clubs pretty much the whole time the As were in Missouri. The key players in this trade were Clete Boyer and Bobby Shantz and, unsurprisingly, both were headed to New York. Boyer would become the Yankees everyday 3rd baseman for 7 seasons, including 5 pennants and 2 world championships. Shantz’s best years were behind him, but he delivered a solid 1957 season as a dependable 4th starter and swingman, leading the league in ERA. Later, Shantz would be a capable middle reliever and closer, compiling a 132 ERA+ in his 4 seasons in New York, as the Bombers won 3 pennants and 1 WS title. Shantz also won the gold glove for pitchers in 1957, an award he would go on to win for 8 straight seasons through to the end of his career.

As an indication of the extent of the trading between the As and Yankees, I counted no fewer than 74 players involved in transactions between these two clubs from 1953 to 1966. Of these, 11 players were traded in both directions in separate transactions. Among those eleven were Art Ditmar and Jack Urban in this deal, Ditmar returning to the As in 1961 and Urban going back to the Yankees in 1959.

Anyway, let me know what you think of this kind of piece. If you like, I’ll try to do some more of these.



This Day in Baseball Trade History – April 5 — 29 Comments

    • Fixed it. Thanks Topper.

      I think that’s the second time recently that I’ve had the White Sox winning the ’83 ALCS. Must be a mental block. Sorry about that to you Oriole fans out there.

  1. I have already mentioned a couple of times that Yankee owners Dan Topping and Del Webb had a very cozy relationship with A’s owner Arnold Johnson. A few years prior to Johnson taking over the A’s he purchased Yankee Stadium from them but had to give up ownership of the park when he bought the A’s. He also purchased the ball park used by the minor-league Yankees affiliate Kansas City Blues.
    The joke going around the AL was that the Yankees were the only team with a farm team in the Majors. If you look at a box-score of a Yankees-A’s game back then it was sometimes hard to discern which team was which,you had to look twice.

    • Good stuff, Richard. I’ll add that Bill Veeck’s account of the Yanks-A’s relationship, and of Webb’s manipulation of AL politics, would make their modern dominance-through-dollars seem quaint.

  2. I like this too. The White Sox eventually traded Hoyt for Ozzie Guillen, who was part of more of their future success.

  3. The trade for Bucky Dent was one of the most important
    in Yankee history. It certainly wasn’t one sided, and
    yet the Yankees got the better of it.

    Dent gave the Yankees a championship caliber shortstop.

    He was a hug upgrade over Jim Mason and Gene Michael.

    4 division titles
    3 AL pennants
    2 world championships

    in the next five years bear this out.

    • Bucky Dent didn’t have a high bar to clear with Gene Michael and Jim Mason.

      I started watching baseball in the mid-70s and I swear Jim Mason was the most hated man in NY. Maybe it was my younger and more impressionable self, but it seemed like he was always being assaulted by boos. Fans don’t boo anywhere near as much as they did back then, and that’s a good thing.

      I just looked up Mason to see if he was as bad as I remembered. Yup, he was. In nine seasons, he produced a negative fWAR. He hit like a pitcher and was not a good fielder. Yet he still got nine seasons in the Show.

      As for Michael, well, he couldn’t hit either and his fielding seems to have been overrated, but he saved his best work for his post-playing career and is probably one of the most important, and least recognized Yankees of the past generation.

      • The only thing I actually remember seeing Jim Mason do was hit a HR in the 1976 World Series in his only AB. I remember it because there was not a lot to cheer about (other than Thurman Munson’s +.500 BA) during the Reds sweep.

          • Does anyone out there know if Mason is the only guy to hit a HR in all of his WS ABs? I tried PI but was unable to do it.

        • I forgot about Mason’s HR until just now. It was also the only HR the Yankees hit in the entire World Series. Baseball is a funny game.

    • The Chicken! Fans loved the guy, but mostly because he replaced the guy I just mentioned above, Jim Mason. It’s always good to replace someone disliked. Even if you’re not all that good, you’ll still be liked as long as you’re better than who you’re replacing.

  4. The 1977 White Sox almost won the A.L. West with Gamble’s help. Bill Veeck used the rent-a-player concept (opposite the free-agent, multi-year contracts he couldn’t afford) to turn the White Sox into contenders-at least for one season. John Calipari does the same thing with Kentucky basketball, but there is suspicion that his players are compensated better than Veeck’s.

    • I think Bill Veeck mentioned that the most important part of the trade was the $200,000 from the Yankees, as he needed the cash to open the season…

    • Good points, Steven.

      Gamble did have a fine season in Chicago in ’77, with 31 HR, 83 RBI and 162 OPS+, in just 137 games. He went to San Diego as a free agent the next season.

      Though Chicago finished 3rd, 12 games behind the Royals, they were 62-38 through July, and in first place as late as Aug 19. But a 28-34 finish did them in.

  5. One of my favorites you’ve written, Doug. More of these please! If it is hard to do every day, even a “this week in trade history” would be fun. I look forward to seeing how the deals get bigger as the season moves on.

    • Those O’s were pretty shrewd. I still remember the gruesome Yankee-O’s trade of June 15, 1976. Rick Dempsey, Scott McGregor, Tippy Martinez, Rudy May and Dave Pagan for Doyle Alexander, Elrod Hendricks, Ken Holtzman and Grant Jackson. Alexander was horrible for the Yankees, Henricks was a washed up 36 year old, Holtzman’s arm was shot (238 innings in three years for NY, ERA_ of 78) and Jackson got drafted in the expansion draft. In the meantime, Martinez was solid for ten years, McGregor won 138 games, plus two sixth place CY finishes, May won 29 games in two years, Dempsey caught 12 more years for Baltimore. I was in college in Baltimore at the time, and a security guard who knew I was a baseball nut came over to me after the trade was announced and told me it was the smartest O’s deal since Frank Robinson.

      • I would never get into a dispute with a security guard, but … I think Blefary-for-Cuellar is a strong contender for that title.

        • I can see that. The Cuellar deal did work out pretty well. Strange career Cuellar had. 125-63 the next six years (ages 32-37(, one CY, one 4th and one 6th, and about 1600 innings. What a horse.

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