I’m borrowing this from my own book so that’s fair, I guess. It’s from the movie “Bull Durham” and Annie Savoy is talking, played by Susan Sarandon.
“Of course what I give them lasts a lifetime. What they give me lasts 142 games. Sometimes, it seems like a bad trade. But bad trades are part of baseball. I mean who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas for God’s sake.”
Darn right, but in the case of Baltimore Orioles fans, it’s the best trade in Orioles history. On December 9th, 1965, The Cincinnati Reds dealt us four American League pennants and two World Championships. It’s as simple as that.
Who gets a triple crown winner in a trade? And four years after the trade, Frank Robinson got to play that Reds team in the World Series. That Big Red Machine of Johnny Bench and down went the Reds again.
But if that’s the best trade in Orioles history, what deal is second best?
I am still fond of the trade of June 15, 1976. On that day in American League history, the Birds were six games below .500 and toiling in fourth place. So they made a big trade with the first place Yankees.
We dealt lefty pitcher Kenny Holtzman, righty hurler Doyle Alexander, reliever Grant Jackson, aging catcher Elrod Hendricks and minor leaguer Jimmy Freeman. On second thought that was a lot of give up. Holtzman and Alexander were big time pitchers.
OK, coming to Baltimore was Rudy May. The left-hander would win 18 games the next season in Baltimore. We got a better catcher in the deal as Rick Dempsey came to Baltimore. He would close his run as a great defensive catcher by winning the MVP Award of the 1983 World Series. Dempsey wasn’t a star but he did so many great things for the Birds.
Also coming to Baltimore was a young left-handed starter named Scott McGregor. He was just 22-years-old when the trade was made and appeared in only three games that season. His record is clear, however. McGregor won 138 games in his 13 seasons in Baltimore. That included a 20-win campaign in 1980. And finally, reliever Tippy Martinez came to Baltimore. All this left-hander did was save 115 games and win 55 more. Martinez pitched in 499 games in an Orioles uniform. Despite getting all these terrific players, the Orioles didn’t win the pennant in 76. However, Baltimore won 88 games that summer.
Third favorite trade? It was one of those winter trades. And very lopsided in favor of Baltimore. It was December 4, 1974. An old Orioles favorite Dave McNally, promising Rich Coggins and minor leaguer Bill Kirkpatrick went North of the border to Montreal. In return, the Orioles received pitcher Mike Torrez and outfielder Ken Singleton.
It was a dreadful trade for Montreal. McNally, who won 181 games for the Orioles won just three for the Expos. Coggins, who had 9 triples for the 1973 Orioles, had a total of 10 hits for the Expos. Torrez pitched one year in Baltimore and won 20 games. Singleton was simply a star. In his decade in Baltimore, he hit 285 doubles and 183 homers. I’d say we got the better of the deal there.