The Sunday Notes: Frank Robinson Traded
As Major League Baseball clubs spend and trade this holiday season, preparing for 2016, this edition of the Notes looks back on a trade propelling the Baltimore Orioles to a championship and reviews something this week that never happened before. Although the Chicago Cubs backed up a bank vault for outfielder Jason Heyward, other teams wheeled and dealed their way to fill gift lists for eager fans. There is always something going on for a sport that never stops.
Sure, grab that extra sample from Hickory Farms or an extra-large egg nog latte from Starbucks and find out if your Uber driver pitched for Montreal.
–This week marked the fiftieth anniversary of one of the biggest trades of all-time, Baltimore acquiring Frank Robinson from Cincinnati for starting pitcher Milt Pappas, reliever Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson.
As the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck tells us, Robinson’s arrival from the Reds changed everything for the Orioles. He explains the Reds felt, at 30, the 1961 National League Most Valuable Player was on the wrong side of his career, moving the slugger to get the successful Pappas to anchor the rotation. Robinson responded winning the triple crown in 1966—slugging 49 homers, hitting .316 and driving home 122—helping the Orioles win their first championship ever in a stunning sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In Robinson’s six years with Baltimore, the Orioles won four American League pennants and two World Series, as he finished in the top ten four times in the MVP vote. That second championship came at the hands of the Reds in 1970. At 34, Robby hit .306 and hammered 28 home runs.
Often, trades are never so cut and dry for immediate success. Here, however, Robinson’s desire changed the fortunes of Baltimore forever.
–It will take a few years to know if the Atlanta Braves can claim the same level of success as Robinson and the Orioles, but their trade of Shelby Miller to the Arizona Diamondbacks is as historic.
Until recently, players drafted in the June amateur draft had to stay on their drafted team for one year before being moved. A recent change ended that restriction as the Dbacks shipped Dansby Swanson, the first pick in last June’s draft, to Atlanta as part of the prospect package for Miller.
Mike Oz from Yahoo’s Big League Stew shows us how rare trading that pick us before he reaches the majors and when the Marietta, Georgia native might be ready to play shortstop in the big leagues.
One point to correct Oz with, although his article was correct when published, is there now have been five first picks traded before reaching the major leagues.
For the record, Shawn Abner was traded from the New York Mets to the San Diego Padres in 1986. Adrian Gonzalez moved from Florida to Texas when the Marlins shipped him to the Rangers in 2003. And Mark Appel was traded Saturday from Houston to Philadelphia for closer Ken Giles. Abner was the first pick in 1984 while Gonzalez earned the honor in 2000.
Quite a gamble for Arizona, who because of Zack Greinke’s signing will not have a first-round pick in the system from 2014 until 2017.
–Free agents or trading prospects not on your shopping list this year? How about a minor league team?
Well, finding one on such short notice is likely not happening, but you could have bought the Norwich Reds of the Connecticut State League in 1906 for a whopping $25.
Yep, the foreclosed team sold at auction for $25 as The Sporting News’ Tim Hagerty writes. Winners of the league that year, the team owed over $1,500 in back salaries.
Before you comment on how much $25 was worth then, more than the two beers and a hot dog it would get you at the park today, a check of Dave Manuel’s online inflation calendar says in today’s money that works out to $657.89. That buys you two tickets and parking at Fenway Park, along with the pair of adult beverages and snack.
–Don’t have the room under the tree for a whole team? How about an organ?
That is what Boston Red Sox team organist Josh Kantor purchased at a charity auction recently, the organ of retired Chicago White Sox instrumentalist Nancy Faust.
Paying $1,400 for it, Kantor—as Rob Ogden writes for the Chicago Sun Times—is unsure what he will do with it, but is very glad to own a piece of baseball history. Faust was the organist for the White Sox from 1970 until she retired in 2010 and is responsible for encouraging broadcaster Harry Caray to sing “Take Me Out to The Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch during his time with the Chisox.
Faust, a mentor to Kantor, was happy the popular keyboardist won the piece. All we know for certain is it will not replace the current one at Fenway.
Kantor, popular for his eclectic mix of music, has a good sized following on Twitter and plays in bands around Boston.
–Maybe an old telegram is on your list this year. Perhaps one for Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Brickhouse?
A collection of the Cubs’ legends memorabilia went up for auction Saturday in Peoria, Illinois including a telegram telling Brickhouse he was a finalist for WGN radio to call Chicago Cubs baseball.
The telegram, as Phil Luciano writes in the Peoria Journal Star, instructs Brickhouse to be ready to go. Sent on March 14, 1940, not only did he go, he stayed until 1981 calling the exploits of Ernie Banks and others for forty years.
Never one to hide his feelings on the air, generations of Cubs fans in Chicagoland, or later nationally on cable television, knew exactly how they were doing by the sound of his voice.
Saved by his wife, this and other mementos were auctioned off.
–Although there is not a great deal of Brickhouse’s work preserved for new generations of Cubs fans to watch, it pales in comparison to the amount surviving from 2016 Ford C. Frick winner Graham McNamee.
The first truly national sportscaster, McNamee called a number of World Series during the 1920s along with prize fights, Rose Bowls and other important events for NBC and their flagship station WEAF. During radio’s infancy, his live descriptions of special events set the standard still used to this day to a degree.
The only piece YouTube could find of him calling a sporting event was this clip of a title fight between heavyweight champion Gene Tunney and former champion Jack Dempsey from Chicago. The round captured the infamous “long count” where Dempsey knocked Tunney on the canvas, but refused to go to his corner, allowing Tunney more than ten seconds to get up and eventually win.
Although clips of him calling baseball are buried or non-existent, McNamee’s invention of a true play-by-play role is worthy for celebrating in Cooperstown.
–For reports needing rides last week to the Opryland Hotel in Nashville for baseball’s winter meetings, imagine their surprise when former Montreal Expos pitcher Floyd Youmans was their driver.
Youmans, a starter for the Expos in the mid-1980s, now drives for the ride service Uber in Nashville.
Pedro Moura, for the Orange County Register, shares the rise and fall of Youmans career, his desire to back into the game he loves and where he is now.
Once a hot prospect in Montreal, compared to friend Dwight Gooden, Youmans became a victim of the bottle and cocaine. By 1989, the Expos dealt him to Philadelphia where he was done as a major leaguer after nine starts.
With his life back in order with a stable marriage and surviving a heart scare, Youmans now works for the ride service and still hopes to find work within the game of baseball.
We can hope he can use his stability to teach others and find a job in coaching or scouting. His love of the game jumps off the screen. At 51, he has plenty to offer.
–With Navy’s 21-17 defeat of Army Saturday, the college football regular season comes to an end. Although we think of the two service academies as primarily football schools, Mike Bertha of MLB.com’s Cut Four says Army and Navy have rich baseball histories as well.
For instance, Dwight Eisenhower was cut from the Army baseball team and Douglas McArthur turned down the Commissioner of Baseball job in 1961. Bertha also shares two current MLB’ers that graduated from the Naval Academy, St. Louis reliever Mitch Harris and Baltimore pitcher Oliver Drake.
Both players debuted in 2015 and have stories deeper than their current uniform.
–Recently, the Olean Times Herald shared several historical facts from the city and Cattaragus County, New York.
Venerable Bradner Stadium, built in 1926, hosted New York-Penn league baseball for years as a Class D squad for several teams including the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees. Aside from sharing future players, the lights at Bradner contained bulbs used at Yankee Stadium, a common practice to recycle bulbs and parts from bigger to smaller stadiums.
Bradner’s configuration for baseball was unique as the batters hit into the setting sun, often causing games to be delayed until full sunset. The stadium, redone in 2013, now hosts local baseball and football.
–Until next week!