Trade information is from baseball-reference.com.
The New York Yankees top (triple A) minor league team, the Blues of the American Association, was in Kansas City in the early 1950s. Mickey Mantle had played on the Blues under manager Harry Craft. The Blues played in Municipal Stadium. However, for the 1955 season the Athletics of the American League moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City and played in Municipal Stadium. The Blues morphed into the Denver Bears in 1955 under 35 year old manager Ralph Houk who later became a Yankee coach and then managed the Yankees to World Series (WS) championships in his first two seasons, 1961 and 1962. Here are some players of interest:
|KC Blues||Denver Bears||Denver Bears||Denver Bears||Denver Bears||Denver Bears|
|Mgr||Harry Craft||Ralph Houk||Ralph Houk||Ralph Houk||Stan Hack|
|Woodie Held||Woodie Held||Woodie Held||Woodie Held|
|Marv Throneberry||Marv Throneberry||Marv Throneberry||Marv Throneberry|
|Bobby Richardson||Bobby Richardson|
|Tony Kubek||Tony Kubek|
|Billy Hunter||Norm Siebern||Norm Siebern|
|Darrel Johnson||Darrel Johnson|
|Johnny Blanchard||Bob Martyn||Johnny Blanchard||Johnny Blanchard|
|P||Ralph Terry||Ralph Terry||Ralph Terry||Ryne Duren|
|P||Don Larsen||Tom Lasorda||Tom Lasorda|
Starting in 1956 the Yankees also had an International League triple A team in Richmond, the Virginians, managed through 1958 by 38 year old Eddie Lopat, who had been one of the Yankees starting pitchers; Lopat threw 136 innings for Richmond in 1956. Lopat later managed the Kansas City Athletics in 1963 and the first 52 games of 1964. Jerry Lumpe was a Virginian in 1956 and 1957. In 1958 the Virginians added Clete Boyer and Deron Johnson.
Let's get some birthdays.
Harry Simpson December 3, 1925 in Atlanta, GA
Vic Power (born Victor Felipe Pellot Pove) November 1, 1927 in Arecibo, Puerto Rico
Billy Martin May 16, 1928 in Berkeley, CA
Ryne Duren February 22, 1929 in Cazenovia, WI
Woodie Held March 25, 1932 in Sacramento, CA
Jerry Lumpe June 2, 1933 in Lincoln, MO
Norm Siebern July 26, 1933 in St. Louis, MO
Roger Maris September 10, 1934 in Hibbing, MN
Ralph Terry January 9, 1936 in Big Cabin, OK
- June 15, 1957: Traded by the New York Yankees with Billy Martin, Bob Martyn and Ralph Terry to the Kansas City Athletics for Ryne Duren, Jim Pisoni and Harry Simpson.
- June 15, 1958: Traded by the Kansas City Athletics with Vic Power to the Cleveland Indians for Roger Maris, Dick Tomanek and Preston Ward.
second 1959 All Star game with two other OF (RoY Bob Allison and Gene Woodling); Maris started the AS game as a KC Athletic batting behind Mantle; Indian Colavito replaced Maris in the 5th inning and later homered off Pirate Elroy Face. Their home runs and RBI in 1961: Maris 61/141, Colavito 45/140.
Woodie Held SABR bio by Joseph Wancho:
In 1955 he returned to the minor leagues with the Denver Bears of the American Association. Held hit 18 home runs that season, and smacked 35 more, with 125 RBIs for the Bears in 1956. He was moved to third base, as Tony Kubek was being groomed as the heir apparent Yankee shortstop.
New York manager Casey Stengel thought highly of Held. “He is a very good player and I like his attitude,” said Stengel after he sent Held back to Denver in 1957. “The ball sings when it goes off his bat. I told him before the year is up, he’ll either be back with me, or with some other big league club. I seldom tell that to anybody who leaves here. Held was a little outfielder that I told to play shortstop when I thought we needed one. But now I wish he wouldn’t play shortstop because he can hit hard at third base and he is even a pretty good centerfielder because he has that long arm. He throws as good or better than any outfielder I got.”Woodie Held had only 6 plate appearances (PA) in 5 games for the Yankees; he never really got a chance at shortstop (SS). 1951 AL Rookie of the Year (RoY) Gil McDougald took over as Yankee SS in 1956 and 1957 and made the All Star (AS) team both years; AS also in 1952 3B, 1958-1959 2B. McDougald filled the gap at SS between Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto and Tony Kubek. Kubek was 1957 RoY, playing these innings: OF 359, 3B 303, SS 297. Here are the Yankee starting lineups against the Milwaukee Braves in the 1957 WS:
Kubek started in: LF, 3B, LF, LF, CF, CF, 3B. Note that Lumpe started three games at 3B and that future Yankee starting 2B Bobby Richardson played in only two games with zero PA.
Woodie Held was the key to how the Athletics got Roger Maris. Held initially played CF. In 371 PA in 1957 for KC Held had OPS+ 117. But in 1958 before being traded to Cleveland: 147 PA, OPS+ 63; with Cleveland: 166 PA OPS+ 62. Not very good. However, after that Woodie Held became the top power hitting AL SS, 1959-1962, then switched to 2B, 1963-1964. In 1965 Held was traded to the new Washington Senators and played LF, his final season as a regular. OPS+ in those seasons: 114, 121, 121, 110, 121, 107, 127. Home runs: 29, 21, 23, 19, 17, 18, 16.
|Home Runs AL 1959|
In 1959 Held was 7th in the AL in HR, only two behind Mantle.
As shown above in the 1957 WS lineups lefty hitting Harry Simpson started games 2,3,5,6; one single in 12 AB. 1957 Yankee innings: OF 319, 1B 162. Simpson also pinch hit (PH) frequently for the Yanks. 1957 PA: 247; OPS+ 94. Simpson seems to have become the starting 1B over 26 year old righty hitting Bill Skowron (501 PA, OPS+ 123), whom I'm guessing was injured, and 34 year old lefty hitting Joe Collins (174 PA, OPS+ 56) who was in his final season. Collins did start WS game 7 and Skowron started game 1 batting fourth between Mantle and Yogi Berra but batted only once against lefty Warren Spahn and was replaced by Elston Howard, who started at 1B in game 4, after two innings. The Yankees must have needed Simpson as insurance. Skowron was an AS 1957-1961. Skowron OPS in 1957: v. righties .784, v. lefties .900; first half (304 PA) .914, second half (197 PA) .667. Simpson in 1958: 58 PA, OPS+ 71 then back to KC:
- June 15, 1958: Traded by the New York Yankees with Bob Grim to the Kansas City Athletics for Duke Maas and Virgil Trucks.
- May 8, 1961: Traded by the New York Yankees with Johnny James and Lee Thomas to the Los Angeles Angels for Bob Cerv and Tex Clevenger.
Remember Ralph Terry who was also traded with Held for Duren and Simpson? The Yankees got him back:
- May 26, 1959: Traded by the Kansas City Athletics with Hector Lopez to the New York Yankees for Johnny Kucks, Jerry Lumpe and Tom Sturdivant.
Ralph Terry in 1962 led AL: wins, starts, innings, HR, BF; AS; 23-12, ERA+ 118; WS 2-1, including game 7 shutout against Giants.
Which brings us to the final significant player in that 1957 trade: Billy Martin. Yes, this was the infamous trade supposedly triggered by the fight at the Copacabana night club. Supposedly part of the idea was to get Martin away from buddy Mantle, that Martin was a bad influence on Mantle who won AL MVP in 1956 and 1957; later again in 1962.
Yanks Play the Copa
[Unsigned, The New York Times]
May 16, 1957
|Hank Bauer, second from right, with his wife and teammate Mickey Mantle, left, and ex-teammate Billy Martin a month after the Copacabana row. A New York grand jury had just cleared Bauer of possible charges.|
On June 4, The Times carried the following unsigned article about fines levied against the players.
Mantle, Berra, Bauer, Ford and Martin were fined $1,000 each and Kucks, a young pitcher in a lower salary bracket than the others, was fined $500. The fines were deducted from the checks the players received at the Yankee Stadium two days ago...
Four weeks later, Billy Martin was traded to the Kansas City A's in an eight-player deal generally acknowledged to have stemmed from the brawl.
This trade is a puzzle. It is made at the trade deadline a month after the fight and is clearly thought out. It is not an impulsive move but has multiple parts intended to improve the club, both in 1957 and after. I wonder if the Yankees paid extra to get KC to take Martin off their hands. Or was KC anxious to get Martin and his Yankee flair? As demonstrated above the Yankees were loaded with infielders and Martin was past his peak (1957: 154 PA, OPS+ 47) and being replaced by the model citizen Bobby Richardson. The Yankees also had 32 year old veteran Jerry Coleman, in his final season, who started all seven 1957 WS games at 2B (.364 BA, .895 OPS); Coleman had risen to the rank of Colonel in the Marines and was the only big league player to be in combat in both WWII and the Korean War (Ted Williams flew combat missions only in Korea, not WWII). Martin's WS heroics were impressive but he was no longer worth the trouble he caused, especially as it impacted the incredibly valuable Mantle.
Finally, Roger Maris:
- Before 1953 Season: Signed by the Cleveland Indians as an amateur free agent.
- June 15, 1958: Traded by the Cleveland Indians with Dick Tomanek and Preston Ward to the Kansas City Athletics for Woodie Held and Vic Power.
- December 11, 1959: Traded by the Kansas City Athletics with Joe DeMaestri and Kent Hadley to the New York Yankees for Hank Bauer, Don Larsen, Norm Siebern and Marv Throneberry.
- December 8, 1966: Traded by the New York Yankees to the St. Louis Cardinals for Charley Smith.
- December 16, 1953: Traded by the New York Yankees with Don Bollweg, Jim Finigan, Johnny Gray, Bill Renna, Jim Robertson and $25,000 to the Philadelphia Athletics for Loren Babe, Harry Byrd, Tom Hamilton, Carmen Mauro and Eddie Robinson.
Through June 15, 1958 OPS+:
Held Athletics 63
Power Athletics 113
Maris Indians 91
But Held was 26 and Maris 23. In 1958 Maris hit 28 HR: Cle: 9 in 182 AB, KC 19 in 401 AB.
Roger Maris SABR bio by Bill Pruden:
Keokuk (Iowa) Kernels ... the place where Maris, who in his early years viewed himself as a contact hitter, discovered his power. His manager Jo Jo White taught him to pull the ball, thus unleashing what would prove to be a history-making force...
... missing a number of games in the second half of the 1959 season due to the removal of his appendix ...
Interesting but it doesn't really shed light on why Cleveland traded Maris. The reference to Maris missing games in 1959 is questionable. Maris did not play games between May 21, 1959 and June 22, 1959. That's not the second half, although Maris could have missed those games for another reason. When he returned Maris continued to hit well through July: OPS .982. However, Maris slumped badly through both August and September; his game log shows Maris playing pretty much every day. 1959 splits:
v. righties OPS .842
v. lefties OPS 774
221 games, 934 PA, 834 AB, 35 HR (AB/HR=23.9), OPS .783, OPS+ 112.
On August 6, 1960 in Kansas City playing for the Yankees Maris hit two home runs giving him 35, matching his total with the Athletics. Maris suffered an injury and did not play between August 14 and August 26. Maris did not homer again until September 8, 1960 in Chicago. Mantle overtook him and won that home run race 40-39. As far as the Yankees acquiring Maris to supply middle of the order power manager Casey Stengel batted Maris leadoff in his first two Yankee games; game one: 1B, 2B, 2 HR. Starting August 31, 1960 Stengel batted Maris third most games. In all seven 1960 WS games Maris batted higher in the batting order than Mantle. 1960 splits:
The key players in the 1959 trade were Roger Maris for Norm Siebern? Who?
In 1962 Siebern may have had a better season at the plate than Maris:
Siebern: 719 PA, 25 HR, 117 RBI, OPS+ 140.
Maris: 687 PA, 33 HR, 100 RBI, OPS+ 126.
In his first two seasons with the Yankees Roger Maris was voted AL MVP and he hit 100 HR (39+61). So, no, I'm not going to try to stand on my head and say that the trade was close. But Norm Siebern was a pretty good hitter for several seasons. PA, OPS+:
Yankees 1,147 113
KC 2,615 126
Baltimore 949 114
Unfortunately, Siebern played OF for the Yankees and his first KC season. Yankee fans remember him as a terrible OF. In 1961 Siebern settled in at 1B. Note his trade for another 1B:
- November 27, 1963: Traded by the Kansas City Athletics to the Baltimore Orioles for Jim Gentile and $25,000.
And, of course, in 1961 in the brand new 162 game season Roger Maris broke the record of 60 home runs in a season set by Yankee RF Babe Ruth way back in 1927 in the 154 game season. Maris had 5% more games.
25 homers home and/or road: Roger Maris. Monday, December 30, 2013
Roger Maris hit 28 home runs (HR) in 1958 playing for both the Cleveland Indians (9) and Kansas City Athletics (19) in 583 at bats (AB). Home/road: 10/18. Home/road rate (AB/HR): 31/18.3. In 1961 Maris set the record with 61 HR. What happened?
Home Run Derby 1960: a different perspective. Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Babe Ruth will always be the Home Run King. In 1960 Mickey Mantle was the active Home Run King...
The series aired in syndication from January 9 to July 2, 1960 ...
(Maris was not invited.)
In 1961 Mantle finished second with 54 HR, losing the HR race to teammate Roger Maris who hit 61. Maris hit 28 HR in 1958, 19 in 1959. He was not yet a big time HR hitter.