Let's Make a Deal: 6 of Baseball's Strangest Trades
These trades left baseball fans utterly confused.
1. HARRY CHITI FOR HARRY CHITI
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.