HomeTeamsOriolesThe 17-Player Trade

In the Good Old Days of baseball – before tournaments rather than talent determined world champions – teams could trade players as freely as kids traded cards.

Virtually everybody had one-year contracts, nobody had million-dollar deals, and general managers made swaps in bars, often after consuming too much alcohol, when they weren’t telephone buddies.

Teams traded early, often, and sometimes frequently.

Executives like Bill Veeck, Paul Richards, and Charlie Finley openly talked of exchanging entire rosters – something that never happened. But one trade came close.

That was a 17-player transaction between the New York Yankees, a perennial contender, and the Baltimore Orioles, then a doormat recently relocated from St. Louis.

The Yankees sent Gus Triandos, Gene Woodling, Harry Byrd, Jim McDonald, Hal Smith, Willy Miranda, Bill Miller, Kal Segrist, Don Leppert, and Ted Del Guercio to Baltimore for Bob Turley, Don Larsen, Billy Hunter, Mike Blyzka, Darrell Johnson, Jim Fridley, and Dick Kryhoski.

The trade started on Nov. 14, 1954 but wasn’t completed until Dec. 1 when the “players to be named later” were actually identified.

While the O’s received former AL Rookie of the Year Harry Byrd and All-Star catcher Gus Triandos, the Yankees got the best of the deal, notably future Cy Young Award winner Bob Turley and fellow starter Don Larsen, who had finished the team’s first season in Baltimore with a 3-21 record. Who knew what he would do for New York in the World Series two years later?

The deal was done by Richards and long-time Yankees general manager George Weiss, who later worked for the expansion New York Mets.

Triandos, a power-hitting catcher, was one of three new Orioles who became regulars, along with Miranda, a good-field, no-hit shortstop, and Woodling, an outfielder who would later return to the Yankees. Richards gradually built a strong young club around them.

But the Yankees were thrilled to add Turley, 25, and Larsen, 26. “Bullet Bob” won the Cy Young Award, then given to only one pitcher in the majors, in 1958, just two years after Larsen blanked Brooklyn, 2-0, in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series on Oct. 8, 1956. Larsen, who had a serious drinking problem, was knocked out early in a previous World Series start against the Dodgers that October.

Turley wore Yankee pinstripes for eight seasons but dominated only in 1958, when he went 21-7, leading the American League in wins, winning percentage (.750), hits per nine innings (6.5), and complete games (19). He was not only an All-Star for the only time in his career but finished second in the voting for Most Valuable Player, an award seldom bestowed upon a pitcher.

He never reached double digits in wins again, finishing with 101 career victories when he hung up his spikes after the 1963 campaign.

Larsen, a true journeyman, never led his league in anything. He pitched for seven different teams, posting an 81-91 lifetime log, but had the distinction of delivering 14 home runs, four of them in a single season, and was often used as a pinch-hitter.

His career batting average of .242 was actually better than his career earned run average of 3.78.

Another multi-player trade of note occurred on Nov. 19, 2012, when the Miami Marlins moved Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio to the Toronto Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar, Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, and Anthony DeSclafani.

Twelve players, with only one – DeSclafani – still active in baseball. He’s with the Minnesota Twins after being traded several more times.

For the most part, the advent of free agency in reduced the size and frequency of swaps. But it allowed many stars to change teams on their own volition.

Among those who helped their new teams most were Catfish Hunter (1975), Reggie Jackson (1977), Goose Gossage (1978), Nolan Ryan (1980), Carlton Fisk (1981), Andre Dawson (1987), Greg Maddux (1993), and Randy Johnson (1999).

Other major players who rode free agency to greener pastures were Pete Rose (1979), Jack Morris (1991 and 1992), Barry Bonds (1993), David Ortiz (2003), Vladimir Guerrero Sr. (2004), Max Scherzer (2015), and Shohei Ohtani (2024).

Dan Schlossberg, Senior Writer
Dan Schlossberg, Senior Writerhttps://mlbreport.com/
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is a national baseball writer for forbes.com; weekend editor of the Here’s The Pitch newsletter; columnist for Sports Collectors Digest; and contributor to USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Memories & Dreams, and many other outlets. He’s also the author of more than 40 books. His email is ballauthor@gmail.com.


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