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9 of the Biggest Trades in Baseball History—And How They Worked Out

November 14, 2012
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The Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins pulled off a blockbuster deal on Tuesday night that sends Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and others to Toronto in exchange for several young players and touted prospects. Analysts were quick to point out that this deal was more a "fire sale" -- the Blue Jays take on a reported $155 million in the deal -- than about the quality of the players involved. In total, this trade would lead to upwards of nine players, and possibly more, changing teams.

Toronto is known for these big deals: They pulled off a 10-player deal with Houston back in July, and an 11-player deal with two other teams the year before. While we don't know how all the buying and selling will impact the Blue Jays, here's a look back at how some of the biggest trades in MLB history turned out.

1. Yankees and Orioles, 1954: 18 players

On Nov. 18, 1954, the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles pulled off the largest deal in MLB history. Baltimore sent Bob Turley, Don Larsen and Billy Hunter to New York for Harry Byrd, Jim McDonald, Hal Smith, Gus Triandos, Gene Woodling and Willie Miranda. The deal was completed on December 1 after a Thanksgiving break when Baltimore traded Dick Kryhoski, Mike Blyzka, Darrell Johnson and Jim Fridley to New York for Bill Miller, Kal Segrist, Don Leppert, Ted Del Guercio, and a player to be named later (which apparently never occurred). It was what the Yankees needed to propel themselves ahead of Cleveland, who the previous year had gone 111-43 en route to the division win. The Orioles, on the other hand, were coming off a 100-loss season and this deal didn't do much to turn around their luck.

2. A's and Tigers, 1957: 13 players

The Kansas City Athletics traded Billy Martin, Gus Zernial, Tom Morgan, Lou Skizas, Mickey McDermott and Tim Thompson to the Tigers on Nov. 20, 1957, and got back Bill Tuttle, Jim Small, Duke Maas, John Tsitouris, Frank House, Kent Hadley and Jim McManus. The deal wound up favoring the A's slightly, but it also was part of a "pointless frenzy of moves" for the team, according to Hardball Times. As for Martin, the most famous name in the deal, he would be traded away the following year, then three more times the next three years. As talented as he was, Martin simply couldn't control himself and get along with management. Anywhere.

3. A's and Yankees, 1957: 12 players

Just 10 months earlier, Kansas City traded Art Ditmar, Bobby Shantz, Jack McMahan, Wayne Belardi and two players to be named later to the New York Yankees for Billy Hunter, Rip Coleman, Tom Morgan, Mickey McDermott, Milt Graff and Irv Noren. Curt Roberts went to Kansas City and Clete Boyer was sent to New York in the spring to complete the deal. Most notably, Boyer became the Yankees' starting 3rd baseman and stayed there for seven years, earning himself five pennants and two World Series championships. These teams loved to deal with each other: Ditmar returned to the A's in 1961.

4. Astros and Padres, 1994: 12 players

A modern blockbuster occurred on Dec. 28, 1994. The Astros traded Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley, Andujar Cedeno, Roberto Petagine, Brian Williams and a player to be named later to the San Diego Padres for Phil Plantier, Derek Bell, Pedro A. Martinez, Doug Brocail, Craig Shipley and Ricky Guttierez. The Astros' success was impeded by the 1994 baseball strike, but many fans expected Houston back at or near the top of their division the following year. That became a longshot when the team had to unload Caminiti and Finley in the prime of their careers to help the organization keep their star asset, Jeff Bagwell. Although Derek Bell had some success in an Astros' uniform, the deal wound up helping the Padres a great deal more and it's considered one of the worst trades Houston has ever made.

5. Mets, Mariners and Indians, 2008: 12 players

In a three-team trade on Dec. 11, 2008, the Mets sent Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez, Jason Vargas, and three minor leaguers (Maikel Cleto, Mike Carp, Ezequiel Carrera) to the Mariners. The Mariners sent New York relievers J.J. Putz and Sean Green and outfielder Jeremy Reed. In the same deal, the Indians sent outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to the Mariners for Mets' pitcher Joe Smith and Mariners second baseman Luis Valbuena. In the short run, all three teams rid themselves of perceived problem spots and paved the way for others waiting to step in. But none of the young prospects in the deal wound up making a splash in the Majors.

6. A's and Yankees, 1953: 11 players

The Yankees and A's got their trading trend started on Dec. 16, 1953, when New York shipped Jim Finigan, Dan Bollweg, John Gray, Jim Robertson, Vic Power and Bill Renna to the Philadelphia Athletics for Harry Byrd, Eddie Robinson, Tom Hamilton, Carmen Mauro and Lauren Babe. In a move that should surprise no one, the Yankees got ahold of Byrd, a top-caliber pitcher that the A's just couldn't afford to pay. It was a salary relief move that would give Kansas City some young players with which to build their franchise.

7. Padres and Cardinals, 1980: 11 players

The Padres traded Rollie Fingers, Bob Shirley, Gene Tenace and Bob Geren to St. Louis on Dec. 8, 1980, for Terry Kennedy, Steve Swisher, Mike Phillips, John Littlefield, John Urrea, Kim Seaman and Al Olmsted. Fingers was then packaged with several others four days later in a seven-player deal with Milwaukee. The Padres, with a roster chock full of forgettable names, finished in last place in both halves of the strike-shortened 1981 season. On the bright side, that spring the Padres drafted Tony Gwynn and John Kruk.

8. Mariners and Rangers, 1980: 11 players

The same week the Padres and Cardinals pulled off their deal, the Mariners and Rangers announced one of their own. On Dec. 12, 1980, Seattle sent Rick Honeycutt, Mario Mendoza, Larry Cox, Leon Roberts and Willie Horton to Texas for Richie Zisk, Rick Auerbach, Ken Clay, Jerry Don Gleaton, Brian Allard and Steve Finch. Yes, that Mario Mendoza, famous for finishing his Major League career with a .215 career batting average and who would be attached to "The Mendoza Line," the line representing futility. The trade didn't seem to help either team.

9. Mets, Brewers and Rockies, 2002: 11 players

The Mets struck a three-way deal on Jan. 21, 2002 when they acquired Jeff D'Amico, Jeromy Burnitz, Lou Collier, Mark Sweeney and cash from Milwaukee, and Ross Gload and Craig House from Colorado. New York sent Glendon Rusch to Milwaukee, and Todd Zeile, Benny Agbayani, Lenny Harris and cash to Colorado. Milwaukee also got Alex Ochoa from Colorado. It was all part of the Mets' efforts to revamp their roster in the offseason. Burnitz didn't wind up being the answer for the team looking for a big bat.

Buying in Bulk: Federal League Transactions

A century ago, teams turned to the Federal League for their talent. On Feb. 10, 1916, Chicago Federal League team sold Mordecai Brown, Clem Clemens, Mickey Doolan, Bill Fischer, Max Flack, Claude Hendrix, Les Mann, Dykes Potter, Joe Tinker, Rollie Zeider and George McConnell to the Cubs for cash.

Then, on Feb. 10, 1916, St. Louis Federal League team sold Eddie Plank, Babe Borton, Harry Chapman, Doc Crandall, Charlie Deal, Bob Groom, Grover Hartley, Amando Marsans, Ward Miller, Johnny Tobin and Ernie Johnson to the Browns for cash. Several future Hall of Famers switched teams in their own cities that week. Not a bad way to build a team: all at once.

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This Week's Best Amazon Deals You Can Still Get
April 30, 2017
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As a recurring feature, we share some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. These items were the ones that were the most popular with our readers this week, and they’re still available.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers (including Amazon) and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

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Sandwich Cutter Taidea Best Adorable Animals Pocket Bread Cutter, Hand Tools Sandwich Kit for $9.99 (list price $39.99)

Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill for $34.99 (list price $44.99)

Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W for $99.99 

Plater Fast Defrosting Tray - Defrost Meat or Frozen Food Quickly Without Electricity, Microwave, Hot Water or Any Other Tools for $18.90 (list price $32.90)

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ISSIKI JAPAN Professional 8 Inch Chef's Knife, High Carbon Stainless Steel, Sharp Cutlery, Ergonomic Handlefor $29.99 (list price $125.00)

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Bellemain Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set, 6 Piece for $18.95 (list price $24.95)

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Prepworks by Progressive Berry Keeper for $7.99 (list price $9.49)

Prepworks by Progressive Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Keeper - 1.9 Quart for $9.96 (list price $11.99)

Oster TSSTTRJBG1 Jelly Bean 2-Slice Toaster, Grey for $29.99 (list price $34.99)

Prepworks by Progressive Lettuce Keeper - 4.7 Quart for $11.99 (list price $12.99)

Norpro Stainless Steel Commercial Potato Ricer for $27.84 (list price $43.99)

Stainless Steel Kitchen Funnel with Removable Strainer/Filter for Essential/Cooking Oils, Flask Funnel for Transferring of Liquid, Fluid, Dry Ingredients & Powder, 5- Inch,Silver - HOXHA for $9.98 (list price $23.68)

POPCO Silicone Microwave Popcorn Popper with Handles for $9.99 (list price $34.99)

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Arabica Coffee Scrub 15 oz, Anjou Body Scrub with Honey, Sea Salt, VB, VE for $8.99 (list price $35.99)

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History
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When the FBI Went After Mad Magazine
April 29, 2017
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Warner Bros., IStock

In a memo dated November 30, 1957, an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation identified as “A. Jones” raised an issue of critical importance: "Several complaints to the Bureau have been made concerning the 'Mad' comic book [sic], which at one time presented the horror of war to readers."

Attached to the document were pages taken from a recent issue of Mad that featured a tongue-in-cheek game about draft dodging. Players who earned such status were advised to write to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and request a membership card certifying themselves as a “full-fledged draft dodger.” At least three readers, the agent reported, did exactly that.

Mad, of course, was the wildly popular satirical magazine that was reaching upwards of a million readers every other month. Published by William Gaines, who had already gotten into some trouble with Congress when he was called to testify about his gruesome horror comics in 1954, Mad lampooned everyone and everything. But in name-checking the notoriously humorless Hoover, Gaines had invited the wrong kind of attention.

The memo got several facts incorrect: Mad had switched from a comic book to a magazine format in 1955, and it was Gaines’ E.C. Comics that had “presented the horror of war” in other titles. Despite getting these crucial pieces of information wrong, Jones didn’t hesitate to editorialize: "It is also of interest to note that…it is rather unfunny.”

The agent recommended the Bureau’s New York offices “make contact” with Mad’s headquarters to “advise them of our displeasure” and to make sure “that there be no repetition of such misuse of the Director’s name.”

Less than a week later, the Feds entered the hallowed hallways patrolled by Alfred E. Neuman. Their New York office would later report to Hoover directly that they had met with John Putnam, the magazine’s art director. (Conveniently, Gaines was not in that day.) Putnam told the agents he regretted the magazine using Hoover’s name and that nothing malicious was intended:

Putnam said that the use of the membership card and the name and address of the Director at the end of the game was referred to in their business as a 'gag' or 'kicker' in the same way that a comedian like Bob Hope or Milton Berle might use it.

Putnam swore that Mad would never again take Hoover’s name in vain; Gaines sent off a letter of sincere apology to the Director.

The Smoking Gun

Just two years later, in January 1960, Agent A. Jones was forced to file a second notice about the shenanigans at Mad. A recent issue had made not one, but two derogatory mentions of Hoover, including one in which he is blatantly and disrespectfully portrayed as being associated with a vacuum cleaner, “The Honorable J. Edgar Electrolux”:  

Obviously, Gaines was insincere in this promise…and has again placed the Director in a position of ridicule…it is felt we should contact Gaines…and firmly and severely admonish them concerning our displeasure…

It was by now clear Mad was not only polluting young minds, but that Gaines had absolutely no regard for the honorable Hoover’s position.

In June 1961, the FBI’s worst fears had been realized. Detailing an investigation into a Seattle-area extortion attempt led to the following:

Investigation … resulted in gaining admissions from the victim’s 12-year-old son and an 11-year-old companion that they had gotten the idea of preparing an extortion letter after reading the June issue of 'Mad' magazine.   

Working in concert with the Buffalo field office, the FBI determined another letter had been sent by a young boy demanding money in the style of a recent issue’s extortion advice. And there was a third under review that was sent to the agent of some professional wrestlers.

Mad was quickly becoming the scourge of the federal government. The FBI suggested the magazine be brought to the attention of the Attorney General for “instructing [readers] to deliberately violate the Federal Law.” They tried reaching out to Gaines, who was on vacation. (Time and again, Gaines simply not being in the office when called upon seemed to confound the FBI.)

Agent A. Jones, having exhausted all attempts to reason with these irresponsible anarchists, filed one last memo:

Despite assurances, they have continued to publish slurring remarks about the Bureau. In view of this situation, it was deemed useless to protest all such irresponsible remarks to a magazine of this poor judgment and capriciousness … we will have to wait and see if our action will result in increased discretion by this publication.

Poor A. Jones was unable to put an end to Mad’s reign of terror. But the magazine redeemed itself somewhat. In the 1970s, when the Bureau was trying to suppress the influence of the Ku Klux Klan, an agent suggested they copy and distribute a sticker from the magazine that read, “Support Mental Illness—Join the Klan!”

Hoover said no.

Additional Sources:
The Smoking Gun.

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