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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Three most memorable trades

As promised, the three most memorable trades involving native Delawareans:

#3 Many people think that today's baseball marketplace, with the huge disparity among the large-market teams with money and the small-market teams without, is a relatively modern occurrence. Not so. The Philadelphia Phillies, under the charge of Gerald Nugent, found themselves continuously short of money during Nugent's reign. Nugent readily sold off players to keep the team afloat, most notably Chuck Klein. The Phillies best season during Nugent's reign was the 1935 team that went 64-89. The last five seasons that Nugent was president of the team resulted in 100 or more losses, with the final version, managed by native Delawarean Hans Lobert finishing the 1942 season 42-109.

One of the players dealt during this time brought a native Delawarean to the Phillies. Kirby Higbe, who led the Phillies in innings pitched in 1940 was sent to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Vito Tamulis, Mike Livingston, Bill Crouch and the all-important cash sum of $100,000.

Tamulis pitched in six games for the Phillies before being sent back to the Dodgers for Lee Grissom who pitched the remainder of the 1941 season and then was finished in the major leagues. Crouch threw in twenty games for the Phillies and then was released. He concluded his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. Livingston stayed with the Phillies the longest, playing almost three seasons and then being traded to the Cubs for Bill Lee. Although Nugent was no longer president, the financial difficulties continued for the Phillies and Lee was sold to the Boston Braves for cash.

Higbe, on the other hand, went 22-9 in his first season with Brooklyn, leading them to the National League pennant. He won 48 more games for them and then was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

#2 The Dave May for Hank Aaron trade is one of two involving native Delawareans and Hall of Famers. The other included three Hall of Famers, cash, the Louisiana Purchase and the kitchen sink. Or at least it seemed that way. On December 8, 1899, the Louisville Colonels of the National League traded native Delawarean Bert Cunningham, future Hall of Famers Honus Wagner and Rube Waddell, Mike Kelley, Tom Messitt, Deacon Phillippe, Tacks Latimer, Tommy Leach, Claude Ritchey, Jack Wadsworth and Chief Zimmer to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Hall-of-Famer-to-be "Happy" Jack Chesbro, Art Madison, Paddy Fox, John O'Brien and $25,000.

In reality, this was not exactly a "trade". Barney Dreyfuss was owner of the Colonels. The Colonels were to be dissolved by the National League and Dreyfuss managed to trade his buyout offer from the league into part-ownership of the Pirates whereby he arranged the movement of most of the team to the Pirates. Once the Colonels were dissolved, Dreyfuss finagled back to the Pirates the players he had sent to the Colonels.

#1 You would think that a trade that involves the acquisition of the finest hitter a state has ever produced would be cause for celebration. However, ask a Los Angeles Dodgers fan their opinion of the trade that brought Delino DeShields to the team from the Montral Expos and you will likely receive a less than positive response. At the time, the skinny pitcher the Dodgers sent to Montreal was most noted for being the younger brother of twenty game winner Ramon Martinez. In time, however, Ramon would be overshadowed by little brother Pedro, winner of three Cy Young awards. Adding insult to injury, after three lackluster years with the Dodgers, DeShields went to the St. Louis Cardinals as a free agent where he posted the best two seasons of his career.

There you have it, the most memorable trades involving Delawareans. Time will tell if the Kevin Mench trade will crack the top half dozen.


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