Friday, May 29, 2015

Joe Christopher Marches to Richmond

Joe Christopher is best known as one of the Mets' early outfielders, and had a pretty good season in 1964. Some baseball seamheads will know that Christopher was on the 1960 World Series champion Pirates and scored a couple runs in the Series.

Christopher stayed with the Mets until after the 1965 season, when he was sent to the Red Sox. He didn't get off to a good start in Boston in 1966, and was dealt to the Tigers, and sent to Syracuse, the Detroit AAA team at the time.

His Baseball Reference page shows he went to Richmond and the Braves' system late that season, but no transaction was shown. His SABR on-line bio article mentions the following:

"In 1966 he played for the Syracuse Chiefs, Detroit’s affiliate. Joe’s marriage to Ana ended in divorce that year, not long after he was sold by Syracuse to the Richmond Braves (for whom it does not appear he played)."

Hinting at a deal, and this Syracuse Post-Standard article confirms a sale:

"Purchase of outfielder Joe Christ o p h c r from ihe Syracuse C h i e f s w a s revealed here Tuesday night by the Richmond Braves* The deal, which reportedly was made after a conference b e t w e e n general manager John Mcllalc o[ the Atlanta Braves and general manager Jim Campbell of the Detroit Tigers, was said to have been a straight cash transaction" (misspellings copied straight from synopsis)

That would put the sale date at the day before the article: August 16, 1966.

 Christopher did play for the Richmond club about 8 games according to Baseball Reference, but then spent 1967 in the Cardinals and Pirates minor leagues. I'll follow up on this if those deals are uncovered.

Christopher pic from,

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Upon Further Review...Don Young for Roberto Rodriguez

In the last blog we looked at a strange deal where apparently Don Young was sent to the A's Iowa farm club by the Cubs in exchange for a purchase of Roberto Rodriguez from the Cubs' Tacoma club. Now we find this from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal of June 25, 1970.

"Outfielder Don Young was sold to Des Moines of the American Association, farm club of the Oakland A's. Pitcher Jim Dunegan, a converted outfielder, was optioned to Tacoma. Lefthanded pitcher Larry Gura was recalled from Tacoma where he had a 3-4 record. The Cubs also bought the contract of righthanded relief pitcher Roberto Rodriguez from Tacoma. Rodriguez was obtained by San Diego May 25 in a conditional deal from the A's. His contract was sold to Tacoma Tuesday and brought by the Cubs Wednesday."

" a conditional deal"

Still looking but possibly a condition of that deal was that Rodriguez would either have to be returned to the A's or compensation would have to be worked out. That would make the Young-to-Iowa quid pro quo make sense...


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Don Young and the Oddball Trade

Don Young will be forever linked to the Cubs collapse in 1969, if you need a rundown of that, you can look it up many places on the web.

He was sent outright to Tacoma by the Cubs before the 1970 season, and mid-season went to Iowa, the AAA team for Oakland. No transaction was listed for this.

After some research, I found this article from The Bryan Times of June 25, 1970.

It mentions Young being sold to Iowa as compensation for the Cubs purchasing Roberto Rodriguez from Tacoma.

This doesn't make a lot of sense on the surface. Rodriguez started the season with Oakland, but supposedly went to the Padres and THEN was bought by the Cubs.

Further study is warranted.

Rodriguez/quez from Check Out My Cards, Don Young from the great Wrigley Wax blog

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Jack Warner Says No, Heads Off to Buffalo

Looks like we have found another transaction, this involving the Cubs and Mets organizations in 1965.

Bill Wakefield had an 'okay' season for the Mets in 1964, but found himself in AAA at the start of 1965. Starting at Buffalo, he suddenly shows up at Salt Lake City, a Cubs AAA affiliate, with no reason listed why.

Checking The Salt Lake Tribune from July 11, 1965 we find the following:

"Soothing the sting somewhat and filling the void in their first starting assignments were ' Bill Connors, up from Dallas- Fort Worth, and Bill Wakefield, a product of the New York Mets - organization."


" Wakefield pitched a six-hitter against Arkansas Thursday. The latter, here from Buffalo in exchange for Jack Warner who refused to come..."

AHA! Checking with Jack Warner finds him going to Buffalo in 1965! So we have a trade of Warner to the Mets for Wakefield.

Seems Warner was sent out in 1965 from the big club as the Cubs recalled Billy Hoeft: Chicago Tribune of June 30, 1965.

So his refusal to report resulted in a trade to the Mets.

Wakefield and Warner pictures from their Topps cards.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tales of Rollie Sheldon

Rollie Sheldon was brought up very early in his career, had some success, then was bounced around before his last major league game in 1966. That doesn't mean his transaction list is done! No Sir!

There's the matter of this card (from Check Out My Cards) from the 1969 set that has him on the Pilots.

Sheldon was on the Seattle AAA team the year before and in spring training with them for the 1969 opener. He didn't make the team and was sent to AAA Vancouver. From there he continues to travel:

The May 9, 1969 Toledo Blade has a deal the Toledo MudHens made (On May 8) purchasing Sheldon and Bob Lasko. Sheldon reported to Toledo and played there for awhile before heading to
the White Sox system.

He then went to the Padres system in 1970. More mysteries to uncover!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wonderful Willie Smith is Traded for George Banks

Been awhile, but we have been searching for more undocumented or unfound trades.

George Banks was a slugging utility player for the Twins and Indians in the sixties. He had a hard time sticking with the big clubs and bounced around between there and AAA through 1966.

In 1967 his Baseball Reference minor league page shows him playing in the Angels system, in Seattle, but there is no transaction listed for this move.

Checking around the Googlesphere, I found a number of articles describing his season with Seattle, and that he was in Spring Training with the Angels before he was sent down. Nothing, though on any deal, until the always-reliable Toledo Blade came through. From the Oct. 17, 1966 paper:

"The Cleveland Indians traded infielder George Banks to the California Angels for outfielder Willie Smith yesterday."

Willie Smith! One of the all-time favorites from the 1969 Cubs, and a successful pitcher early in his career that switched to an outfielder/pinch-hitting specialist. Checking his Baseball Reference major league page, we find the following transaction listed:

"October 13, 1966: Purchased by the Cleveland Indians from the California Angels."

Well, now we know better!

George Banks from the Trading Card Database, Willie Smith from!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Loaning of Ken Hamlin

Sometimes you just randomly pick a player on Baseball Reference and you come up with a story.

Ken Hamlin was an infielder during the sixties, mostly spent in the Washington Senators organization. In looking at his minor league career, he spent the 1963 season at Rochester of the Baltimore organization.

There was no transaction listed associated with that move, so it was off to the detecting.

I found this:

"On A Silver Diamond"

A neat series on the Rochester Red Wings that takes you season-by-season. This includes this passage:

" in mid-spring, when Ken Hamlin was assigned to Rochester by the Washington Senators as payment for a “look” at pitcher Tom Baker." (NOT DR. WHO!)

So! We look at Tom Baker's Baseball Reference page,  where we find these:
January 19, 1963: Sent to the Washington Senators by the Baltimore Orioles as part of a conditional deal.
 March 26, 1963: Returned by the Washington Senators to the Baltimore Orioles as part of a conditional deal.

Now we know, that deal was loaning Hamlin to Rochester. Hamlin played for Rochester the entire season then returned to the Senators. Baker was sold to the Cubs a couple months later, where he had a couple games in the majors.

So we find the details of the transaction! Just as good as an completing an incomplete.

 Tom Baker on the Cubs from
Ken Hamlin from

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pepe Frias Comes Back to the Expos, Sort of....

While looking up a side trip diminutive SS Harry Chappas had to the Denver Expos from the White Sox organization, I came across what surely was the last transaction of longtime all-field no-hit SS Pepe Frias,

The Ottawa Citizen of Dec. 16, 1981 carries an article stating Frias was signed by the Expos as a free agent and assigned to AAA Wichita, the day before.

The last Baseball Reference
transaction is this one:

"August 31, 1981: Released by the Los Angeles Dodgers."

He did play a few games there in 1982 then went to Mexico. Frias had a trip to the Brewers system in 1972 to chase down...perhaps it was a loan arrangement,,,,that was how Chappas ended up in Denver.

Pic from The Trading Card Database.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dooley Womack and his Two 1969 Trades From the Astros

Here is one of the unknown transactions that I have had no luck tracking down.

If you have read "Ball Four" you know of the trade during the 1969 season that sent Jim Bouton from the Pilots to the Astros for Dooley Womack (and Roric Harrison).

Later in 1969, December, Womack gets traded AGAIN by the Astros, this time to the Reds with Pat House for Jim Beauchamp.

In-between, there is an unknown transaction listed for approximately October where the Astros get Womack back from the "Brewers" (I believe they were technically still the Pilots).

I have been completely unable to find any other listing for this deal, whether it was a purchase or a trade and whether anyone else was involved. Plenty of references to Jim Bouton, but nothing on Womack's Houston return.

Can YOU find the unknown transaction?

Weird Womack-with-a-bat pic from

Monday, May 4, 2015

Frank Leja and the 1961 Shuffle

Frank Leja was a bonus baby slugger for the Yankees in the fifties who made a couple appearances for them in 1954 and 1955, and another short stop with the LA Angels in 1961.

His documented transaction list has him staying in the Yankees system until late 1961, where he is traded to the Cardinals system, then to the Angels before the 1962 season. He was traded to the Braves later.

That doesn't explain a side trip to Syracuse in 1961. The Chiefs that year were a TWINS affiliate. Turns out that Leja was purchased to add some power to the lineup....

The Spokesman-Review for May 12, 1961

The deal on May 11, 1961 was a cash purchase of Leja by Syracuse from Richmond.

Another website has Oct. 1, 1961 as a tentative date for Leja returning to the Yankees in anothe cash deal, before his trade to the Cardinals.

Yet another article has Leja being recalled by the Cardinals later from the Charleston farm club, mentioning he had just been traded there in 1961.

There is also a matter of a couple teams Leja played for out of the Yankees organization in 1960...we will keep looking!

(pic from )

Friday, May 1, 2015

Danny Breeden Takes a Phoenix Vacation

Danny Breeden, older brother of fellow Major Leaguer Hal Breeden, had a long career in AAA with a few big league stops. At one point, he even retired when the Cubs tried to send him to the minors in 1971.

He came back to play a few more years, and a few more deals.

Baseball Reference lists a 1973 purchase by the Padres from the Cubs, and a 1974 trade from the Padres to the Cardinals....but that doesn't explain a mid-1973 switch from the Hawaii Islanders (Padres AAA team) to the Phoenix Giants (SF AAA team).

We find an article from the June 18, 1973 edition of the Arizona Republic...

"Phoenix made what appears to be a sound trade recently when it acquired catcher Danny Breeden and pitcher Steve Simpson from Hawaii for utility man Frank Johnson."

So we have a trade involving THREE former major-leaguers that was previously unknown.

Another republic article says the trade happened in the first week of June. Score!

Pic from the Topps Vault and