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

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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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History
Lady Ali: How Jackie Tonawanda Changed Women's Boxing
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As photographers and newspaper reporters looked on, Jackie Tonawanda allowed herself to be fingerprinted. It was October 7, 1974, and Tonawanda—who was dwarfed by the burly professional wrestlers waiting their turn—was taking the necessary steps to become a licensed professional boxer by the New York State Athletic Commission. The fingerprints would be sent off to Albany make sure she wasn't a felon; a physical would determine her fitness for competition.

Tonawanda didn't anticipate either one becoming a hurdle. Her main concern was that the state of New York had long prohibited women from prizefighting.

The gregarious Tonawanda told the assembled press in the commission's offices that she was the “female Cassius Clay,” referring to boxing icon Muhammad Ali. (Like Ali, she was known for boasting to the media and offering impromptu demonstrations of her hand speed.) Women could already be licensed as pro wrestlers and boxing managers in the state. Why, Tonawanda argued, should female boxers be exempt from officially participating in the sport?

Commissioners brushed off her complaints, fretting about being deemed negligent if women suffered injuries. Rumors circulated in the boxing community that blows to the chest could cause breast cancer. Ed Dooley, the head of the state's athletic commission, thought women fighting in a ring would bring “disrepute” to the venerable sport.

In time, Jackie Tonawanda would be hailed as a boxing pioneer, someone who stood up to the rampant sexism from promoters and the sport's sanctioning bodies. But in 1975, Tonawanda's license application was denied. Dooley refused to back off from his insistence that boxing was strictly a “manly art.” Tonawanda was incredulous. If that was what he believed, she thought, she would show him otherwise.

To prove her point, she would even agree to an extreme demonstration of her worth as a fighter: an unlicensed fight against a man, in full view of spectators at Madison Square Garden.

Although Tonawanda was the first woman to ever lace up her gloves at the famed New York arena, women’s boxing had been a ring attraction for decades. In 1876, two women took wild swings at one another in what may have been the first spectator women's match in the country. (The prize was a silver butter dish.) In 1954, women competed on television for the first time. But with so few participants in the sport, it was difficult for any real momentum to develop. And without endorsement from state athletic commissions, official records and rankings were nearly impossible to come by.

Such was the state of female fighting when Tonawanda decided to compete. Born on Long Island and orphaned by age 8, she started boxing at age 13, eventually migrating to the famed Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. As an adult, Tonawanda occupied a unique space in the art: At 175 pounds, she was larger than many of the other women who fought, making matchmaking difficult. She once stated she sparred exclusively with men because women “don't show me anything and they can’t take my power.”

With only scattered women’s bouts available, Tonawanda often fought in unsanctioned matches around the country. She managed to compile a 23-0 record (although this number would sometimes change in interviews, as would her birth year and even her height) before petitioning her home state of New York to sanction her bouts. Commission members like Dooley and former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson were wary, fearing the seeming fragility of women might give a proverbial black eye to the sport. They turned down both Tonawanda and Marian "Tyger" Trimiar, another female boxer, citing, among other things, concerns over the possible trauma the women might suffer to their breasts.

“I don't think a blow to the breast would cause breast cancer," Irwin Weiner, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University, told The New York Times when the women first applied for licenses in 1974. "On the other hand, it's a rather tender area that can be easily bruised. It might take longer to recover from bruises there.” Dooley remained insistent, saying a fight "could endanger a female's reproductive organs and breasts."

Tonawanda didn’t accept the decision in stride. She sued the state for discrimination, arguing that women had every right to compete. In June of 1975, while the lawsuit was still being contested, she agreed to compete at a martial arts tournament at Madison Square Garden that fell outside the purview of the commission. Her original opponent was to be a Thai fighter in a mixed-rules striking contest, but that fighter ended up being replaced by an unheralded kickboxer named Larry Rodania. In the opening moments of the fight, Rodania hit her with a shot that left her unable to sleep on her left side for weeks. For much of the first round, though, Tonawanda parried his strikes, getting a sense of his timing. In the second, she landed a left that cracked his jaw and sent him to the canvas.

The referee announced that Rodania was out, unable to answer basic questions like “Where are you?” But some observers expressed doubt that the bout was legitimate. Recapping the event, Black Belt magazine questioned Rodania’s judgment in taking the fight at all. From the outside, it appeared to be a lose-lose proposition: Beating a woman in the ring would impress few, and losing to one could be ruinous in the eyes of fans who wouldn't expect a woman to be competitive with a man. It's not clear whether Rodania ever competed again.

For Tonawanda, the spectacle of her squaring off against Rodania made headlines and led to more offers, some outside of the ring. Later that year, she not only received a boxing license from the state of Maine, but also filmed a small role for the Dustin Hoffman film Marathon Man. In 1976, she was invited to spend time at a training camp with Muhammad Ali as he prepared for a bout against Ken Norton. Being around Ali, Tonawanda said, made her so nervous that she could barely eat.

If the bout was intended to elicit a response from the New York commission, however, it didn’t work. Tonawanda continued to compete in bouts outside of the state, and the commission steadfastly refused to acknowledge the rights of female prizefighters until 1978 brought a development they couldn’t ignore.

Three years prior, Tonawanda’s lawsuit had made it to the state Supreme Court, which ruled in Tonawanda’s favor and suggested she sue once again in order to have the law in New York overturned. When Tonawanda failed to follow up on their advice, another boxer, Cathy “Cat” Davis, picked up the baton and initiated a suit. When Davis’s legal action forced the commission to throw out the ban, Davis, Tonawanda, and Tremiar became the first three women to receive licenses in the state.

For the first time, Tonawanda would be able to claim a legitimate, professional fight on her record.

Despite setting a legal precedent, the court’s decision didn't guarantee that the fighters would necessarily be able to compete in New York. With so few female fighters to match up with one another, the women who were granted licenses often sought fights out of the area. The following year, Tonawanda fought Diane “Dynamite” Clark in a six-round bout in Louisville, Kentucky, in what would be her first and only professional contest. She lost in a split decision.

While it was a crucial moment for the fighters, women’s boxing continued to endure the perception that it was a sideshow. From the Rodania fight onward, Tonawanda received offers to fight men, including noted light heavyweight Mike Quarry. Quarry, Tonawanda claimed, backed out when he realized he had nothing to gain by fighting a woman.

By the mid-1980s, Tonawanda's career was winding down. She fought a man a second time, scoring another knockout at the Nassau Coliseum in 1984. It would be one of her last competitions before being injured in a 1986 car accident that ended any consideration of returning to the ring. From that point on, she became something of a mentor in various boxing gyms in the state. At Fort Apache Youth Center in the Bronx, she advised aspiring fighters on technique. Later, she trained future heavyweight contender Israel Garcia, who she met after Garcia discovered that she lived in the apartment building where he worked.

Lalia Ali faces off against Gwendolyn O'Neil of Guyana during the 2007 WBC/WIBA Super Middleweight World Title in Johannesburg, South Africa.
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In the meantime, fighters like Laila Ali, Christy Martin, and other women began gaining notoriety and respect for being capable pugilists. While they undoubtedly faced sexism, none had been forced to insist on their right to compete. That road had been paved by Tonawanda, who demanded equal footing with her male counterparts.

Tonawanda died from colon cancer in 2009. Like many boxers, she had no pension or retirement fund to fall back on, and her remains were initially destined for a mass grave on Hart Island, New York City’s potter’s field. She was saved from that fate thanks to Ring 8, the nonprofit consortium of former prizefighters that she belonged to. The group, which provides financial assistance to veteran boxers, raised enough money for a marked grave for her in the Bronx. It was proof that boxing had ultimately accepted Tonawanda, long considered an outsider, as one of their own.

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Big Questions
Why Do We Sing the National Anthem at Sporting Events?
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In early September 1814, Francis Scott Key, an American lawyer and amateur poet, accompanied American Prisoner Exchange Agent Colonel John Stuart Skinner to negotiate a prisoner release with several officers of the British Navy. During the negotiations, Key and Skinner learned of the British intention to attack the city of Baltimore, as well as the strength and positions of British forces. They were not permitted to leave for the duration of the battle and witnessed the bombardment of Baltimore's Fort McHenry on September 13 and 14. Inspired by the American victory and the sight of the American flag flying high in the morning, Key wrote a poem titled "The Defence of Fort McHenry."

Key set the lyrics to the anthem of the London-based Anacreontic Society, "The Anacreontic Song." (Nine years earlier, Key had used the same tune for “When the Warrior Returns (from the Battle Afar)” to celebrate Stephen Decatur’s return from fighting the Barbary pirates, which included the line “By the light of the Star Spangled flag of our nation.”)

The poem was taken to a printer, who made broadside copies of it. A few days later, the Baltimore Patriot and The Baltimore American printed the poem with the note "Tune: Anacreon in Heaven." Later, Carrs Music Store in Baltimore published the words and music together as "The Star Spangled Banner."

The song gained popularity over the course of the 19th century and was often played at public events like parades and Independence Day celebrations (and, on occasion, sporting events). In 1889, the Secretary of the Navy ordered it the official tune to be played during the raising of the flag. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that it be played at all military ceremonies and other appropriate occasions, making it something of an unofficial national anthem.

After America's entrance into World War I, Major League Baseball games often featured patriotic rituals, such as players marching in formation during pregame military drills and bands playing patriotic songs. During the seventh-inning stretch of Game One of the 1918 World Series, the band erupted into "The Star-Spangled Banner." The Cubs and Red Sox players faced the centerfield flag pole and stood at attention. The crowd, already on their feet, began to sing along and applauded at the end of the song.

Given the positive reaction, the band played the song during the next two games, and when the Series moved to Boston, the Red Sox owner brought in a band and had the song played before the start of each remaining contest. After the war (and after the song was made the national anthem in 1931), the song continued to be played at baseball games, but only on special occasions like opening day, national holidays, and World Series games.

During World War II, baseball games again became venues for large-scale displays of patriotism, and technological advances in public address systems allowed songs to be played without a band. "The Star-Spangled Banner" was played before games throughout the course of the war, and by the time the war was over, the pregame singing of the national anthem had become cemented as a baseball ritual, after which it spread to other sports.

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