You always see those mysterious "players to be named later" spring up in trades. There are usually restrictions on what players can be traded depending on how each team does. The best player named later, though, was Harry Chiti. At the beginning of the 1962 season, the Cleveland Indians dealt catcher Chiti to the New York Mets for cash and a player to be named later. In June, the two teams decided on the player: Harry Chiti. Essentially, Chiti was traded for himself and cash, making him a literal rent-a-player.
2. JOHNNY JONES FOR A TURKEY
Chattanooga Lookouts owner Joe Engel was a publicity hound and his promotions were headline-grabbers (he once gave away a house during a game). But perhaps his most unusual stunt was when he traded shortstop Johnny Jones to Charlotte. In return, Engel received a 25-pound turkey, which he prepared for the media. After trying the turkey, Engel declared that Charlotte had won the trade because the turkey was tough. Maybe if that turkey had been juicy, Chattanooga would have come out ahead.
Oddly enough, that isn't baseball's only player-for-food trade. In 1998, the Pacific Suns traded Ken Krahenbuhl to the Greensville Bluemen for a player, cash, and 10 pounds of Mississippi catfish.
3. MARILYN PETERSON FOR SUSAN KEKICH
Yankees pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson were friends and, in the swinging 1970s had even allegedly engaged in some innocent wife-swapping. But in 1973, they took it a step further, literally switching wives. The ladies moved in to their new partners' houses, bringing the kids and even the dogs with them. Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn said he was appalled when he found out, but the Yankees had a lighter look at it. GM Lee MacPhail laughed and said, "We may have to call off Family Day."
4. JOE GORDON FOR JIMMY DYKES
As GM of various baseball teams, Frank Lane built up a reputation as being quick to the trigger on any trade, earning him the nicknames "Frantic Frank" and "Trader Lane." He was famous for his fateful trade with Cleveland that sent star Rocky Colavito to Detroit, casting a supposed curse on the Tribe. But his most unusual trade came mid-season in 1960, when he traded his manager, Joe Gordon, to Detroit in exchange for Tigers manager Jimmy Dykes. The move was mostly a stunt (allegedly, he wanted to trade the entire team to Detroit, but was stopped by the commissioner of baseball) and didn't help either team: the Indians finished in fourth place in the American League, two places ahead of the Tigers.
5. JOHN ODOM FOR 10 BATS
When the Calgary Vipers realized that their new pickup John Odom wasn't going to be able to play for them, they decided to make the best of it. Due to a felony charge, Odom wasn't able to cross the border into Canada, thus making him pretty much useless to a Calgary team. So they dealt the pitcher to the Laredo Broncos in exchange for 10 maple bats. The team thought it was all in good fun; after all, they had once tried to trade a player for seats for their new stadium. But Odom took the high road, using the ridiculous trade as motivation to get better.
6. DAVE WINFIELD FOR DINNER
After amassing 3000 hits and a grand hitting career, you'd think Dave Winfield's value would be through the roof. But, in the waning years of his career, he was traded for dinner. The Minnesota Twins dealt Winfield to the Indians for a player to be named later at the trading deadline in 1994. But, two weeks later, before Winfield could play for the Indians, a strike ended the season. Winfield never played for the Indians and a player was never named. To settle the trade, executives from Minnesota and Cleveland decided to go out for dinner and the Indians picked up the check.
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As the 16,000 spectators began filing out of the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, following a night of fights on June 28, 1997, MGM employee Mitch Libonati noticed something strange on the floor of the boxing ring. He later described it as being roughly the size of a fingernail, with the texture of a piece of hot dog or sausage.
It was no concession stand remnant. It was a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear.
Wrapping the morsel of flesh in a latex glove, Libonati hurried backstage, where Holyfield was conferring with officials and doctors after his opponent, Mike Tyson, had been disqualified for biting him on the left ear. In all the commotion, Libonati wasn't allowed inside the room. But Michael Grant, one of Holyfield’s training partners, accepted the ear fragment on Holyfield’s behalf.
Libonati’s discovery was the climax to one of boxing’s most controversial and bizarre evenings, one in which "Iron" Mike Tyson—the most famous fighter of his era—meted out a savage reprimand for what he perceived was dirty fighting on the part of Holyfield. The ear-biting far exceeded the brutal underpinnings of boxing and added to Tyson's reputation as a frenzied combatant both in and out of the ring.
Mike Tyson’s collision with Evander Holyfield had started when the two were just teenagers. On the amateur circuit, they had sparred together—not quite knowing the heights each would achieve, but understanding the other would be a formidable obstacle if they were to ever meet as professionals.
Tyson was a prodigy, having won the heavyweight championship of the world in 1986 at the age of 19 and dominating the division up until an upset loss to James “Buster” Douglas in Tokyo, Japan, in 1990. Holyfield was the lighter fighter at cruiserweight (190 pounds), moving up to the heavyweight division in 1988 and gaining respect for his trilogy with Riddick Bowe.
Long before that fateful night in 1997, Tyson's personal life had started to overshadow his accomplishments inside the ring: An allegedly abusive marriage to actress Robin Givens darkened his image in the media and ended in a very public divorce after just one year. In 1992, a rape conviction sidelined the fighter for more than three years while he served out his prison sentence.
When Tyson returned to the ring, he rattled off a string of wins against fighters not quite at his level, including Peter McNeeley, Buster Mathis Jr., Frank Bruno, and Bruce Seldon. Holyfield had stepped away from competition in 1994, but as Tyson knocked off inferior opponents, talk of a bout with Holyfield intensified. Finally, the two met in Las Vegas on November 9, 1996, with Tyson a 17-1 favorite over the semi-retired Holyfield.
Holyfield would prove his doubters wrong. Through 11 rounds of action, he outmaneuvered and outclassed Tyson by negating his opponent's power with movement and volume. Holyfield also landed headbutts that were declared unintentional, but to Tyson seemed deliberate. Before the fight could see a 12th round, Holyfield knocked Tyson down and earned a technical knockout victory.
While it was an undoubtedly disappointing moment for Tyson, an upset in boxing virtually guarantees a lucrative rematch deal. Both men agreed to meet a second time, with Holyfield earning $35 million and Tyson getting $30 million. Tyson’s camp, however, insisted that the referee from the first bout, Mitch Halpern, not be booked for the second, because Tyson felt he failed to call the illegal headbutts. The Nevada State Athletic Commission didn’t want to be seen capitulating to Tyson’s demands, but Halpern stepped aside voluntarily. So referee Mills Lane took his place.
Before a huge crowd full of A-list celebrities like Sylvester Stallone and a then-record 1.99 million households that had purchased the event on pay-per-view, Tyson and Holyfield met for a second time at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on June 28, 1997. While Holyfield took the first round, Tyson appeared fit and adaptive, and came out blazing in round two. Then, just as Tyson had feared, Holyfield’s headbutt struck him again.
The clash of heads opened a cut over Tyson’s right eye, which threatened to obscure his vision as the fight went on. It also opened a reservoir of frustration in the fighter that would manifest in a spectacularly violent way.
Coming out for the third round, Tyson had forgotten his mouthpiece and had to go back and retrieve it—a foreshadowing of things to come. His aggression was working against Holyfield, but with 40 seconds left in the round, the two clinched up. Tyson moved his mouth so it was near Holyfield’s right ear. With his mouthpiece still in place, he clamped down on the ear, ripped the top off, and spat it along with his mouthguard onto the canvas.
Holyfield jumped up in the air in shock and pain. Referee Mills Lane was initially confused by what had happened until Holyfield’s trainers, Don Turner and Tommy Brooks, yelled out what Tyson had done. Lane called for a doctor then told Marc Ratner, the executive director of the athletic commission, that he was going to end the fight. Ratner asked if he was sure. Seeing Holyfield was bleeding from his ear but otherwise ready to fight, Lane waved the two men back into competition.
Incredibly, Tyson bit Holyfield a second time, this time on the left ear, before the round ended. This time, Lane was aware of what was happening and had seen enough. Before the start of the fourth round, he disqualified Tyson.
That was far from the end of it. Realizing he had lost the fight, Tyson grew incensed, shoving Holyfield from behind and pawing at the security guards who had stormed the ring in an attempt to restore order.
After the bout, Tyson didn’t appear to be overly contrite. He explained that he was frustrated at Holyfield headbutting him without being penalized, and said he had lost control.
“Listen,” Tyson said. “Holyfield is not the tough warrior everyone says he is. He got a nick on his ear and he quit.”
Tyson believed his retaliation was justified. “This is my career," he said. "I’ve got children to raise and this guy keeps butting me, trying to cut me and get me stopped on cuts. I’ve got to retaliate. What else could I do? He didn’t want to fight. I’m ready to fight right now. Regardless of what I did, he’s been butting me for two fights. I got one eye. He’s not impaired. He’s got ears. I’ve got to go home and my kids will be scared of me. Look at me, look at me, look at me!”
Two days later, Tyson issued a tempered apology in an effort to minimize the consequences, but it was too late. In addition to losing his boxing license in the state of Nevada, Tyson was fined 10 percent of his purse, or $3 million, which was thought to be the largest fine in sports at the time.
Tyson could never entirely shake the stigma of his actions. When a lucrative bout with Lennox Lewis was being planned in 2002, the fight ultimately ended up taking place in Memphis, Tennessee; Nevada refused to restore Tyson's license following a press conference brawl between the two men.
Tyson ultimately continued competing through 2005, when he lost his last bout to Kevin McBride. Holyfield retired in 2011. Earlier this year, the 54-year-old Tyson expressed a desire to return to the ring. The fighter once known as "The Baddest Man on the Planet" is scheduled to fight Roy Jones Jr. on November 28, 2020. Yet Holyfield, now 57 years old, remains a possible future opponent.
The two have occasionally interacted in public in interviews, with Tyson expressing remorse and Holyfield admitting he briefly thought about biting Tyson on his face right back. The pair even filmed a spot for Foot Locker in which Tyson “gave” Holyfield the missing piece of his ear.
In reality, Holyfield never did get his ear back. After Mitch Libonati handed it over to Michael Grant, the piece somehow fell out of the latex glove while being transported to the hospital.
Many fighters talk about leaving a little piece of themselves in the ring. It’s usually metaphorical. For Evander Holyfield, it was simply the truth.