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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Connie Mack’s Less Than Graceful Exit

The Yankees made them do it. That’s the time-honored explanation for the American League’s decision to move the Philadelphia Athletics to Kansas City in 1954. After strong-arming the rest of the league to install a friendly, compliant owner in Kansas City, the Yankees looted the Athletics franchise, acquiring such key players as Roger Maris, Ralph Terry and Clete Boyer in return for nobody in particular.

That conventional wisdom has been disputed recently by historian Bill Deane, who argues in his book, Baseball Myths, that the A’s actually got the better of their many deals with the Yankees. Now newly discovered evidence blows away the conspiracy theory surrounding the franchise move.

snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 26, 2014 at 10:04 AM | 57 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 26, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4662776)
The A's got the better of those deals in the sense that the players they got from the Yankees provided more cumulative WAR numbers, but given that Maris and Terry were instrumental in several Yankees' championship teams, and that Boyer and Art Ditmar also contributed to those Yankees' pennant winners, it's hard to give much credence to the idea that the Yanks got taken. About the only major loss they suffered was that Norm Siebern would have been an improvement over the platoon squad in LF, but that didn't seem to hurt them all that much in the end.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 26, 2014 at 12:16 PM (#4662790)
The confusion and disarray around the eventual sale of the A's is by far the most interesting part of the article.

Amazing how ramshackle a business MLB was in the 1950's.
   3. attaboy Posted: February 26, 2014 at 12:30 PM (#4662806)
Great article! Worth the time to read it through and see how things are/were done.
   4. Morty Causa Posted: February 26, 2014 at 12:51 PM (#4662823)
That is a really fine article.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 26, 2014 at 01:08 PM (#4662837)
Really fascinating stuff. What explains Roy Mack's constant shifting alliances?
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 26, 2014 at 02:35 PM (#4662928)
But the victory came at a price: To pay off the McShain loan, the Connecticut General insurance company took a $1,750,000 mortgage on the club and its home, Shibe Park. The Macks had to make a $50,000 mortgage payment each quarter, a crushing burden for a business with annual revenue of just $1,200,000.


Roy Mack, who was running the business side, estimated the club needed to draw 600,000 to break even. In 1953 the gate fell to 362,000, and 1954 started even worse. Stories surfaced that the Macks were ready to sell, but Roy said, “We’ve been down before; why, one year I remember we drew 278,000, but we got by. And we’ll survive now.”


To me the most amazing part is some of the attendance and dollar figures mentioned.

Total annual revenue of $1.2M on attendance of 4,000 per game.
   7. tfbg9 Posted: February 26, 2014 at 03:00 PM (#4662969)
Don't forget Bobby Shantz. All 5'-6" of him.
   8. Traderdave Posted: February 26, 2014 at 03:03 PM (#4662973)
The article (which is really worth a read) cites the diffciulty of travel to the West Coast as a factor in preventing the A's from moving to LA.

How was that overcome by 1958? Were newer, faster aircraft available by that time?
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 26, 2014 at 03:14 PM (#4662994)
The article (which is really worth a read) cites the diffciulty of travel to the West Coast as a factor in preventing the A's from moving to LA.

How was that overcome by 1958? Were newer, faster aircraft available by that time?


I think the key was moving two teams out there, so you wouldn't be flying for just one series.

It's often been said that Stoneman's agreement to move the Giants was necessary for the Dodgers to move, and the Dodgers fleeced him by getting the much better market.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 26, 2014 at 03:23 PM (#4663006)
How was that overcome by 1958? Were newer, faster aircraft available by that time?


The article says jet airliners weren't around in 1954. This article says the first jet airliner to California took flight in October of 1958.

Snapper's explanation also makes a lot of sense.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: February 26, 2014 at 04:14 PM (#4663051)
The A's got the better of those deals in the sense that the players they got from the Yankees provided more cumulative WAR numbers, but given that Maris and Terry were instrumental in several Yankees' championship teams, and that Boyer and Art Ditmar also contributed to those Yankees' pennant winners, it's hard to give much credence to the idea that the Yanks got taken. About the only major loss they suffered was that Norm Siebern would have been an improvement over the platoon squad in LF, but that didn't seem to hurt them all that much in the end.

Put in today's terms, the A's weren't going to win anything anyway so what use did they have of actual major league players. Better to trade them for some kids who might be good 5 years down the track before they're traded for some kids who might be good 5 years down the track.

Looking at the 69 A's, when they started getting good, the most important player acquired by trade was probably Phil Roof with fewer than 300 PA. Virtually everything was amateur FAs or draft.
   12. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 26, 2014 at 04:51 PM (#4663074)
The A's got the better of those deals in the sense that the players they got from the Yankees provided more cumulative WAR numbers, but given that Maris and Terry were instrumental in several Yankees' championship teams, and that Boyer and Art Ditmar also contributed to those Yankees' pennant winners, it's hard to give much credence to the idea that the Yanks got taken. About the only major loss they suffered was that Norm Siebern would have been an improvement over the platoon squad in LF, but that didn't seem to hurt them all that much in the end.

Put in today's terms, the A's weren't going to win anything anyway so what use did they have of actual major league players. Better to trade them for some kids who might be good 5 years down the track before they're traded for some kids who might be good 5 years down the track.


Walt, I agree with that perspective. My only point is that since the Yankees' key acquisitions were instrumental in winning them 5 pennants and 2 World's Championships from 1960 to 1964, and previous trades (Shantz, Slaughter, Ditmar) helped them win from 1956 to 1958, the fact that the A's made out better in the long run probably wasn't of much concern to them.
   13. TR_Sullivan Posted: February 26, 2014 at 05:41 PM (#4663116)
Outstanding article.

By the way, check out the Giants 1958 schedule... they basically had monster homestands and roadtrips that lasted like 2-3 weeks. One roadtrip was July 23 to Aug. 10
   14. God Posted: February 26, 2014 at 06:28 PM (#4663154)
I think I recall reading somewhere that the Dodgers purchased their own jet when they moved to LA. Not sure what the Giants did.
   15. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 26, 2014 at 06:31 PM (#4663157)
The A's got the better of those deals in the sense that the players they got from the Yankees provided more cumulative WAR numbers, but given that Maris and Terry were instrumental in several Yankees' championship teams, and that Boyer and Art Ditmar also contributed to those Yankees' pennant winners, it's hard to give much credence to the idea that the Yanks got taken.


Bill James has also written about these trades, it's been awhile but my general take was that the A's farm "system" was an unproductive disaster, and given that there was no free agency or international signings back then the only way to acquire players if you couldn't develop your own was by trades.

The Yankees on the other hand had more MLB ready guys in the high minors than they knew what to do with- so if the A's had someone the Yankees wanted, it wasn't that hard to get a bunch of guys in return- guys who mostly were never gonna play for the Yankees but were better than the A's other options-

the A's basically had to trade for volume just to be able to field a semi-respectible MLB team.

The Maris trade was kind of odd for an A's/Yankees trade in that removing the chaff it was basically Maris for Siebern - and in 1959 it wasn't really all that clear who projected better
   16. McCoy Posted: February 26, 2014 at 07:30 PM (#4663197)
Yankees probably cost themselves 10 to 15 WAR out of Maris by messing around with him during his wrist injury. That's on them and them being arsefvcks should have no bearing on the quality of the players being swapped. If they were being bastards to Maris it is likely they would have been bastards to the guys within their system.
   17. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 26, 2014 at 08:32 PM (#4663215)
The Maris trade was kind of odd for an A's/Yankees trade in that removing the chaff it was basically Maris for Siebern - and in 1959 it wasn't really all that clear who projected better.

It may have been mostly wishful thinking on the part of New York writers and Yankee fans, but at the time of that trade most people thought the Yankees had robbed the A's blind. Maris was (correctly) foreseen as a strong home run threat with Yankee Stadium's short porch, whereas Siebern was looked upon as spray hitter with little home run power. And while it's pretty much forgotten now, Siebern also had a terrible reputation as a fielder, in great part due to one horrific World Series game in 1958 where he lost three fly balls in the Sun**, leading to all three runs in a 3-0 Yankee loss to Milwaukee. Many Yankee fans never quite got over that, and given Maris's big offensive jump in 1959, they were almost beside themselves with glee at the trade.

**All scored as hits, but nobody was fooled.
   18. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 26, 2014 at 09:12 PM (#4663236)
And while it's pretty much forgotten now, Siebern also had a terrible reputation as a fielder, in great part due to one horrific World Series game in 1958 where he lost three fly balls in the Sun**, leading to all three runs in a 3-0 Yankee loss to Milwaukee.


If his reputation was that bad, why did he win the Gold Glove as an outfielder in 1958, the same year? (I'm not being snarky, that's a real question I don't know the answer to.)
   19. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 26, 2014 at 09:20 PM (#4663239)
If his reputation was that bad, why did he win the Gold Glove as an outfielder in 1958, the same year? (I'm not being snarky, that's a real question I don't know the answer to.)

he had calm eyes
   20. Publius Publicola Posted: February 26, 2014 at 09:46 PM (#4663248)
How was that overcome by 1958? Were newer, faster aircraft available by that time?


The Boeing 707 was a complete game-changer.
   21. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 26, 2014 at 10:03 PM (#4663258)
And while it's pretty much forgotten now, Siebern also had a terrible reputation as a fielder, in great part due to one horrific World Series game in 1958 where he lost three fly balls in the Sun**, leading to all three runs in a 3-0 Yankee loss to Milwaukee.

If his reputation was that bad, why did he win the Gold Glove as an outfielder in 1958, the same year? (I'm not being snarky, that's a real question I don't know the answer to.)


Well, to start with, awards voting always takes place before the World Series. (smile)

Other than that, I have no idea how Siebern ever won a Gold Glove. He stole but 5 bases in 13 attempts that year, which doesn't seem to indicate much foot speed or range. And his defensive metrics on BB-Ref are mediocre to poor, but obviously that wasn't the reason. If I had to take a stab, it's that he was a .300 hitter on a pennant winning team, in a league without any outstanding glovemen at his position. He wasn't competing against Barry Bonds, he was competing against Al Smith, Ted Williams, Roy Sievers, Charlie Maxwell, Bob Nieman, Minnie Minoso and Bob Cerv.
   22. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 26, 2014 at 10:46 PM (#4663276)
Thanks - given those choices, you'd think even an antediluvian Minoso would be a better fielder than the others...

EDIT: Hmmn...I always thought that Minoso was considered a good defensive outfielder, probably from being familiar with his "1" rating in Strat-O-Matic for the 1954 season, but looking at BR, I see he had negative dWAR for his career. Is this some kind of positional adjustment thing, or was he really not very good with the glove?
   23. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 26, 2014 at 10:46 PM (#4663277)
He wasn't competing against Barry Bonds, he was competing against Al Smith, Ted Williams, Roy Sievers, Charlie Maxwell, Bob Nieman, Minnie Minoso and Bob Cerv.

but there was also Jim Landis, Rocky, Jackie Jensen, and a few more. Siebern was a strange choice
   24. Good cripple hitter Posted: February 26, 2014 at 11:11 PM (#4663281)
EDIT: Hmmn...I always thought that Minoso was considered a good defensive outfielder, probably from being familiar with his "1" rating in Strat-O-Matic for the 1954 season, but looking at BR, I see he had negative dWAR for his career. Is this some kind of positional adjustment thing, or was he really not very good with the glove?


It's a positional adjustment thing. He's 26 runs above an average left fielder over his career, but he loses 77 runs for position. According to bb-ref he was generally a good fielder until 1959 / his age 33 season.

For 1954, he's 16 runs above average.
   25. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 26, 2014 at 11:31 PM (#4663286)
but there was also Jim Landis, Rocky, Jackie Jensen, and a few more. Siebern was a strange choice

Except that back then I'm pretty sure that the 3 outfield positions were awarded separately, and none of those three you name were leftfielders. Landis played CF and the other two were RFers. A guy named Williams played LF for the Red Sox. Whereas the seven players I mentioned are all listed in BB-Ref as the starting LFers for their teams.
   26. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 26, 2014 at 11:38 PM (#4663289)
Except that back then I'm pretty sure that the 3 outfield positions were awarded separately, and none of those three you name were leftfielders. Landis played CF and the other two were RFers. A guy named Williams played LF for the Red Sox. Whereas the seven players I mentioned are all listed in BB-Ref as the starting LFers for their teams.


That's correct. from 1957-1960, voting was for individual outfield positions, and then in 1961, the positional vote was dropped, and voters could vote for three centerfielders if they chose.


It's a positional adjustment thing. He's 26 runs above an average left fielder over his career, but he loses 77 runs for position. According to bb-ref he was generally a good fielder until 1959 / his age 33 season.

For 1954, he's 16 runs above average.


Thanks - I always thought he was considered a good fielder. To be honest, I don't quite understand awarding negative value just for position, but I guess that's how it's calculated...
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: February 26, 2014 at 11:50 PM (#4663293)

Thanks - I always thought he was considered a good fielder. To be honest, I don't quite understand awarding negative value just for position, but I guess that's how it's calculated...


most people don't agree with that concept. There is a reason for it, but intuitively it's horrible decision that screws things up when people are smart enough to understand that centerfield is inherently a more difficult defensive position than left field.
   28. bjhanke Posted: February 27, 2014 at 08:22 AM (#4663352)
I'm old enough to remember this time period, although I wasn't an adult or anything. I have three things that I think are at least worth throwing out there:

1) The Boeing 707 was, really, a game-changer in terms of long-distance flights. I was only about 8 or 9 when it first came out, but it generated enough buzz that even I knew that it was a radically new type of airplane.

2) I think Bill James discusses this in the New Historical, but Norm Siebern was considered a good defensive LF except by Yankee fans, after the WS of 58. My guess, at the time, was that the Yanks felt fan pressure to trade Siebern, and basically traded him to the A's for the most-similar player they could find, who promptly figured out Bill Dickey's secret - pull everything you can down the RF line.

3) In general, though, this thread has UNDERSTATED the reputation the Yankees had for looting the As. The general fan opinion was that the Yanks were, essentially, operating the As as a minor league club in a AAAA league, despite the fact that said AAAA league did not exist, and they had to put the As in the AL. One thing that is worth keeping in mind whenever you try to analyze fan opinion of the Yankees is that, except in New York, the Yankees were regarded as the team that was allowed by their league - maybe even encouraged - to cheat. They were always able to come up with some guy to fill a late-season hole, and I mean guys like Johnny Mize and Enos Slaughter, without trading any starters. They could always fill a hole with a decent MLB player by trading a few grade-B+ prospects to the As. If one of those prospects happened to be more than the Yanks thought he was, they'd just trade to get him back when he matured.

The reason given by non-NY fans for this being allowed to happen went like this: The AL was losing the attendance war to the NL, to such an extent that they felt that their status as a major league was actually in danger (integration, of course, was never thought to be the issue). So the league got together and decided to let the Yanks become a superteam, generating lots of press in New York, and allowing the other teams to make enough money to survive on the games they had against the SuperYanks. I am very serious. This is what non-NY fans thought. Bill Veeck became a folk hero because he was the one AL owner who would not get with that program, but insisted on actually trying to compete with the SuperYanks. That's why Damn Yankees became such a huge musical hit; there's a reason it was not titled "Miracle in D. C." or something. People actually believed this. What I am NOT old enough to remember is whether they were right about it. However, I will note that MLB's response, in the 1910s, to a bad AL team in NY and the threat of the Federal League was to do just that - allow the Yanks to, basically, loot a few good players from other clubs. So, it's not entirely a hopeless conspiracy theory. It had happened once. - Brock Hanke
   29. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 27, 2014 at 10:21 AM (#4663397)
Interesting post Brock, thanks.
   30. Hal Chase School of Professionalism Posted: February 27, 2014 at 10:23 AM (#4663399)
The reason given by non-NY fans for this being allowed to happen went like this: The AL was losing the attendance war to the NL, to such an extent that they felt that their status as a major league was actually in danger (integration, of course, was never thought to be the issue). So the league got together and decided to let the Yanks become a superteam, generating lots of press in New York, and allowing the other teams to make enough money to survive on the games they had against the SuperYanks. I am very serious. This is what non-NY fans thought. Bill Veeck became a folk hero because he was the one AL owner who would not get with that program, but insisted on actually trying to compete with the SuperYanks. That's why Damn Yankees became such a huge musical hit; there's a reason it was not titled "Miracle in D. C." or something. People actually believed this. What I am NOT old enough to remember is whether they were right about it. However, I will note that MLB's response, in the 1910s, to a bad AL team in NY and the threat of the Federal League was to do just that - allow the Yanks to, basically, loot a few good players from other clubs. So, it's not entirely a hopeless conspiracy theory. It had happened once. - Brock Hanke


So, the Yankees were and are evil. That's eerily consistent with my worldview.
   31. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 27, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4663411)
2) I think Bill James discusses this in the New Historical, but Norm Siebern was considered a good defensive LF except by Yankee fans, after the WS of 58.

Siebern coming up from the minors was considered one of the Yankees' best prospects since Mantle came up in 1951, and he had a very good rookie year. But the raves for Siebern were mostly if not exclusively about his hitting, and there's nothing in his early fielding or baserunning numbers to indicate that it should have been otherwise. His range factor was slightly below the league average, and his baserunning value could charitably be described as nonexistent.

And then after that horror show in the World Series---the only comparison that comes to mind was Willie Davis in 1966, only in Siebern's case you had 3 lost balls in 3 separate innings leading to the only 3 runs of the afternoon---the next year his offensive numbers took a considerable overall drop, and with but 25 home runs in 2 full seasons it was apparent the Yankees needed more power. And while Sieburn's numbers had gone down in 1959, Roger Maris's had gone way up, which is why the general view of that trade at the time was that the Yankees had once again robbed their AAAA farm team.

My guess, at the time, was that the Yanks felt fan pressure to trade Siebern, and basically traded him to the A's for the most-similar player they could find, who promptly figured out Bill Dickey's secret - pull everything you can down the RF line.

There aren't any directional breakdowns of home runs for those years on BB-Reference, but in Maris's 2 MVP years, his home/road split for home runs was 43/57. IOW it wasn't the Yankee Stadium short porch that made for the sudden burst in power. More likely it was a case of entering his prime years with surrounding hitters that offered him infinitely better protection.

In general, though, this thread has UNDERSTATED the reputation the Yankees had for looting the As.

You're right about the reputation, but as has sometimes been pointed out, most of those pre-Maris acquisitions came about either through waiver deals that the other teams had passed on, or via trades where the other team actually got the better of the deal in the long run: Johnny Sain for Lew Burdette in 1951; Enos Slaughter for Bill Virdon in 1954 and then again from waivers in 1956; Ralph Terry for Jerry Lumpe** in 1959, after which (believe it or not) Lumpe had a higher WAR than Terry over the next 3 years; etc. The only acquisition that even in hindsight seems to fail the smell test was in 1950, when the Yanks bought Johnny Hopp for $50,000 in early September. But that was from the Pirates, not the A's, who at the time were still in Philadelphia.

As for the conspiracy theory part, the much more plausible explanation was given by Walt and Johnny in #11 and #15 above: Those teams weren't going anywhere, and the Yankees were overstocked with prime prospects. Different strategies for different teams.

And if the conspiracy had really been league wide, it wasn't much of a conspiracy, given that during that entire decade the Yankees never made an advantageous trade with the Indians, the White Sox, the Senators, the Red Sox or the Tigers. Four of those teams never dealt with the Yankees at all, and in the two trades that the Nats made with the Bombers***, the Yankees got by far the worst of the deal.

**In a multi-player trade where those two were the key figures.

***Porterfield for Kuzava in 1951; Jensen/Shea for Irv Noren in 1952
   32. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 27, 2014 at 10:34 AM (#4663414)
So, the Yankees were and are evil. That's eerily consistent with my worldview.

That's probably tongue in cheek, but it's eerily consistent with the views of people who believe in conspiracies of the sort that Brock outlined, regardless of the facts.
   33. Morty Causa Posted: February 27, 2014 at 10:56 AM (#4663442)
I've already gone into this extensively, and I don't have time to do it again: but see Veeck as in Wreck, for starters. The accusation is that the Yankee owners didn't just loot the A's; they systematically worked against the interests of the American League when it came to franchise movements, even if that meant giving the NL a leg up. Throughout the '50s, the Yankee owners worked against establishing strong teams in certain cities, and they worked to cede the best choices to the NL. It included the big sellout to the Dodgers, and culminated in deferring to the NL when it came to the expansion of the two leagues.
   34. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 27, 2014 at 01:21 PM (#4663590)
I've already gone into this extensively, and I don't have time to do it again: but see Veeck as in Wreck, for starters. The accusation is that the Yankee owners didn't just loot the A's; they systematically worked against the interests of the American League when it came to franchise movements, even if that meant giving the NL a leg up. Throughout the '50s, the Yankee owners worked against establishing strong teams in certain cities, and they worked to cede the best choices to the NL. It included the big sellout to the Dodgers, and culminated in deferring to the NL when it came to the expansion of the two leagues.

All that's true, although the truth is it would have been stupid to move a team to Los Angeles without bringing San Francisco along, which only the National League could do.
   35. bjhanke Posted: February 27, 2014 at 01:33 PM (#4663597)
Jolly - Thanks for the Maris splits. I retract my comment about following in Bill Dickeys' shoes. It's hard to believe that I never looked up Maris' home/road homer splits. Thanks for the help on that, and also thanks for understanding that a child's version of a conspiracy theory isn't something that I would consider as set in stone. You did understand that what I was trying to get at was the reputation. I don't know anything serious about the Yankees front office or its relationship to the American League at the time.

One thing that some of the posters SEEM to not be taking into account (it could be that they just didn't include it in their comments) is that the Yanks made a lot of "get me through the next year or two" trades. Jerry Lumpe's eventual WAR compared to Ralph Terry's is likely not what the Yanks were worrying about at the time. They needed a pitcher right now. They had too many infielders as it was. That is, having a player in his prime was worth a lot more to the Yanks than any hot prospect's future was. Of course, that comes from having a monster farm system. Other teams can't think that way, although, curiously, it's the way that the Yanks and the Dodgers (at least) think now. But that has to do with free agency and which teams have how much money. It's not exactly the same thing. - Brock
   36. Sunday silence Posted: February 27, 2014 at 02:26 PM (#4663661)
not sure what the home/road splits tell us about Maris. A couple of guys I know who saw him play a few times in Griffith park said he was trying to pull everything. This was circa 1960 so I dont know if he was doing that throughout his career, or even if these guys are correct. But Griffith park was huge I guess and you dont have to pull it.
   37. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 27, 2014 at 03:08 PM (#4663700)
One thing that some of the posters SEEM to not be taking into account (it could be that they just didn't include it in their comments) is that the Yanks made a lot of "get me through the next year or two" trades. Jerry Lumpe's eventual WAR compared to Ralph Terry's is likely not what the Yanks were worrying about at the time. They needed a pitcher right now.

And as you explain in your following comments, that's almost always going to be the difference in perspective between a perennial contender and a team that's trying to establish a talent base to build upon. It's the same consideration that motivates the Yankees today when they give up #1 draft choices in exchange for 30 year old pitchers, and with a handful of exceptional stretches it's what they've been doing ever since the beginning of free agency.

----------------------------------------------------------------

not sure what the home/road splits tell us about Maris. A couple of guys I know who saw him play a few times in Griffith park said he was trying to pull everything. This was circa 1960 so I dont know if he was doing that throughout his career, or even if these guys are correct. But Griffith park was huge I guess and you dont have to pull it.

I probably went to over a dozen Yankee games in Griffith Stadium in 1960 and 1961, including a 4 game series in 1961 where he hit a home run to "Deep RF" in each game. I should have made my point clearer, which isn't that Maris didn't become a mostly dead pull hitter with the Yankees, but that he became a much more prolific home run hitter everywhere. To the extent that he adjusted his swing to Yankee Stadium once he joined the Yankees in 1960, it was a skill that he used even more to his benefit on the road.
   38. Jay Z Posted: February 27, 2014 at 04:10 PM (#4663738)
The problem with the Arnold Johnson KC A's is what was the long range plan? Look at their rosters. Yeah, they stumbled into talent now and again; they got the best out of Bob Cerv. But Bob Cerv's best came in his early 30s; not someone you can build for the future around.

Look at the Pirates of the time, the Orioles. Bringing in young talent year after year until something sticks. Even the Senators. What was there for a KC A's fan to look forward to? Except for DeMaestri, who was ever on the team for three years in a row? When was the team ever particularly young? All of the moves were at the behest of the Yankees, who needed to look at the short term. But the A's never leveraged the time they had to build into anything useful until Finley took over the franchise.
   39. Sunday silence Posted: February 27, 2014 at 04:27 PM (#4663754)
Was Finley also able to work with the Yankees, or was he despised even at stage?

Also can anyone add more on how the league got rid of Bill Veeck?
   40. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 27, 2014 at 04:48 PM (#4663763)
One thing that some of the posters SEEM to not be taking into account (it could be that they just didn't include it in their comments) is that the Yanks made a lot of "get me through the next year or two" trades.


I don't think it was so much of a get me through the next year or two thing- it's that these were THE DAMMED YANKEES- they always had a surplus of MB ready/MLB caliber talent- but of course that didn't always line up with their on field need- they were willing to trade 2 WAR to get 1 WAR, because the 2 they were trading would otherwise be playing in Newark or sitting on the bench.

Lumpe was a nice young player, versatile too- in many ways a poor mans version of Gil McDougald- but the Yankees had McDougald-

The Yankees had a YOUNGER SS who they thought more highly of, Kubek,

3B kind of revolved for the Yankees a bit until they got Boyer- but Lumpe wasn't McDougald, he never really ht well enough to be a regular 3B
   41. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 27, 2014 at 04:52 PM (#4663765)
Was Finley also able to work with the Yankees, or was he despised even at stage?


Bill James once wrote that one of the reasons KC tolerated Finley as long as it did was that when he came in he:
1: Promised no more Yankee trades
2: Kept that promise
   42. just plain joe Posted: February 27, 2014 at 05:04 PM (#4663773)
One of the amazing things about the Stengel-era Yankees is that they were so successful despite constant roster churning. It does help when you have Berra, Mantle and Ford, plus Elston Howard once they finally couldn't keep him out of the lineup any longer, but everybody else was basically coming or going. I suppose you have to include McDougald as a constant but he was shuttled among 2B, 3B and SS depending on who else was there that season. I also understand that the AL as a whole then was fairly weak but somebody had to win the pennant and, usually, it was the Yankees. Stengel, at least with the Yankees, seemed to have the uncanny knack of getting one or two good seasons from a varied assortment of players. From what I've read few of the Yankees really liked Stengel but they performed well for him because they knew he wouldn't hesitate to get rid of anyone if he felt he had someone better he could put out there instead.
   43. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 27, 2014 at 05:33 PM (#4663794)
Was Finley also able to work with the Yankees, or was he despised even at stage?

Right after Charlie Finley bought the Kansas City A's, he staged a stunt where he burned a bus to symbolize the end of the "NY shuttle".

Everyone should RTFA. Main points are what small potatoes MLB was in the 1950s -- although the overall American economy was much smaller then, too -- and the AL & NL were much more rivals than partners at that time. Bud Selig pretty much ended that, but it was the case for a long time.
   44. bjhanke Posted: February 28, 2014 at 06:14 AM (#4663953)
I'm not sure that the league "got rid" of Bill Veeck. In some ways, Veeck was a holdover from previous decades, when MLB owners ran their teams as a business, borrowing capital from banks to erect ballparks, and then depending on yearly revenues to pay for everything, including the interest on the bank loans and the owner's personal expenses. Calvin Griffith and Connie Mack were the last two of these, but they got in at the turn of the century. Veeck kept buying and flipping ballclubs. He "got out" of baseball by selling the St. Louis Browns to interests in Baltimore. He had bought the Browns because he thought he could run Cardinals' owner Fred Saigh out of town. When Saigh sold to a local interest with deep pockets (Gussie Busch), Veeck had to sell the Browns because there was no way he could compete with Gussie's deep pockets. There just aren't many of those owners left. You get guys who made fortunes in other businesses (George Steinbrenner was originally a great lakes shipping magnate, IIRC) and sometimes just guys with huge piles of money who see that buying a MLB franchise, holding it for some years, and then selling it produces a larger profit than anything else they can think of to do with the money. Veeck didn't have the luxury of thinking like that. - Brock Hanke
   45. Sunday silence Posted: February 28, 2014 at 07:27 AM (#4663958)
Hey Brock: Thanks for that. I was just looking at Dizzy Dean's career, can you shed any light on:

Why were the Cards so quick to trade him to the Cubs in early '38. He was still very effective. They got a pile of cash and also got Curt Davis a pitcher who turned out to have a lot of longevity. Although he didnt get to MLB until age 30 he lasted to age 42 and actually won 158 games (more than Diz). He spent 5 seasons with the SF Seals beforee all that, 3 of them were very good, but he was already 34 at the time of the trade.

Was there any chance they could have used Diz in the 1930 world series that they lost in 6? Diz made his MLB debut in late Sept of that year, beating the Pirates allowing 3 hits and a run. The Cards had guys like Flint Rhem throwing for them in the WOrld series
   46. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 28, 2014 at 08:50 AM (#4663966)
Why were the Cards so quick to trade him to the Cubs in early '38. He was still very effective.

Not really. He'd been battered around in Spring training by both Major League and minor league teams. He was traded 3 days before Opening Day.

Was there any chance they could have used Diz in the 1930 world series that they lost in 6?

Dean wasn't promoted to the Cardinals in 1930 until Houston had wrapped up its season on September 7th, and he wasn't eligible to pitch in the World Series.
   47. JE (Jason) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 09:18 AM (#4663971)
It's often been said that Stoneman's agreement to move the Giants was necessary for the Dodgers to move, and the Dodgers fleeced him by getting the much better market.

Snapper, that's unfair. It really boiled down to whether San Fran was a better choice than the Twin Cities, Stoneman's original choice of venue.
   48. McCoy Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4664041)
From what I recall Veeck wanted to move the Browns but the other owners blocked him and thus he ended up selling the team.
   49. Morty Causa Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:52 PM (#4664112)
Let me refer you to Chapter 15 of Veeck As In Wreck. Veeck goes into some detail as to why he thought on assuming ownership of the Browns he could finesse it so it would be the Cardinals who would have to move. It involves some typical Veeckian razzle-dazzle and even whizz-bang circus-type promotions (hiring some Cardinal greats, making radio broadcasts, etc.), true, but it also revolves around the fact that the Browns owned the stadium that both teams played in and that the owner of the Cardinals was someone with limited resources (although he had more than Veeck). Once Anheuser-Busch bought the Cards it was obviously all over, but that happened only when the threat to the Cards seemed real. It was a long shot, but until Busch bought the Cardinals Veeck had his hopes. And he lays out his reasons. And he was making inroads. So he says and there is objective indication to support his claims. If you will notice the attendance increase in 1952 for the Browns, along with a corresponding decrease for the Cards that year, he may not have been living entirely in fantasy land. Anyway, that’s his story. Read it. I'm sure Veeck is trying to make it look as good as possible for his side, but it's an interesting tale, and he is very specific.
   50. Morty Causa Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:56 PM (#4664117)
This is how Veeck looked at nefariousness of the Yankees, how they were bad for baseball. Owner Webb didn’t just own the Yankees; he also had a big construction company and he was always using his Yankee influence and leverage to hustle business for that company.

Basically, Webb was perfectly willing to use Yankee hegemony to aggrandize his company, even if meant compromising the interests of his league, and ultimately that of the Yankees, too—all that was secondary to his getting those building contracts for his company. He and Topping’s actions in the ‘50’s, culminating in the expansion talks of @1960 resulted in the American League getting short shrifted at practically every turn when it came to team movements and new team’s expansion territories—either the American League was left with the smaller market or a weaker combine was allowed to gain ownership of a franchise or it entered a large market like LA later than it could have under stricter, even unfair, conditions that the Yankees didn’t back the league in fighting or objecting to.

The American League because of the Yankees ended up moving franchises from St. Louis to Baltimore and from Philadelphia to Kansas City in the early ‘50’s when with some Yankee assertiveness they could have gone to Los Angeles or Milwaukee or Houston. The St. Louis franchise move was because Webb and Topping were engaged in a vicious vendetta to first destroy, then run, Veeck out of baseball, and in doing so they were perfectly willing to first bankrupt the Browns and then institute a weak ownership that made the franchise precarious in Baltimore. Johnson, their chosen owner for the A’s, who moved it to Kansas City (and everyone knew he was going to do this), when other prospective owners (including Veeck) were more ambitious in their plans. Johnson owed huge mortgages to Webb and had agreed to give Webb's company the contract to either refurbish the existing stadium or build a new stadium there.

Similarly, later, a weak ownership was approved for Washington when the Griffiths moved to Minnesota, despite the fact that there were people who were better financed and more knowledgeable available. The Yankees were always ready to murder prospective rivals in the cradle.
   51. Morty Causa Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4664121)
This was all while they worked against AL people who wanted to go to Milwaukee ahead of the Braves move or to Los Angeles ahead of the Dodgers or even maybe to Houston—although that last is probably more attenuated: Still, he and the Yankees allowed Frick (that suck-up to the NL) to blackball Clint Murchinson and Sid Richardson because of Murchinson’s involvement in “gambling” activities, which, according to Veeck, was strictly about horse track proceeds that went to children’s camp funds--in other words it was silly and trivial, especially when you consider Webb was very much in the gambling business, and had even used players like Mantle and Ford to promote his casinos and stuff long before that debacle with Mantle and Mays in the '70's.

So, the Dodgers got Los Angeles. The Giants went to San Francisco. And St. Louis dragged its ass to Baltimore. Weak owners were installed in Washington and Baltimore, and when the AL finally got to go to LA, that franchise had to go as a vassal state of the O’Malley’s Dodgers, encumbered by all sorts of inhibiting conditions. Webb and the Yankees played a part at every turn practically in the American League always getting the short end of the stick in the ‘50’s, as well as in the later expansion talks.

Webb backed Frick (who was a do-nothing commissioner and a sycophant of national league owners, especially of O’Malley) and O’Malley, and blatantly shilled for them, in keeping the Hank Greenberg combine from getting the Los Angeles franchise because Greenberg wouldn’t suck O’Malley’s dick. He did it for the construction contracts (the Dodgers were building and the Angels would be building). Frick had declared both New York and Los Angeles open cities. The American League accepted this docilely because the Yankees didn’t balk, and didn't support the other owners when they objected to something, but O’Malley didn’t reciprocate—why should he when there was so little countervailing force. He, in his lordly fashion, demanded all sorts of concessions from whoever was going to be the new AL franchise owners. Autry and Co. kowtowed.
   52. Morty Causa Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:58 PM (#4664123)
In fact, Webb’s shenanigans got so rank when it came to running interference for O'Malley and the NL at expense of the AL and the AL franchise in LA at the expansion talks that even Topping (who had flatly told Veeck in 1952-53 that they were out to bust him and run him out of baseball) finally had enough and broke rank with Webb, strenuously pointing out that if the Yankees were willing to accept that New York was an open city, so should the Dodgers be willing to accept the same about LA. Topping and Webb had some heated exchanges at owner meetings that threatened the partnership—and may have doomed it in the long run, bringing about the sale to CBS. Because the Yankees refused to be an effective counterweight to the Dodgers, the AL was effectively always in a weaker bargaining position. The Yankees, in a short run strategy, were perfectly willing to allow their pond to shrink, as long as they got to be the big fish in that pond, and were allowed certain “fishing” concessions in the other pond.

All this is a from Veeck’s book. Fascinating reading. And all the above is from postings I made a couple-three years ago. I didn’t go back to Veeck’s book, although I highly recommend it.
   53. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4664129)
Morty, you'd make a good book reviewer, but the only part I can't see is the AL moving to Los Angeles in the prop plane age** without another team accompanying it to San Francisco. Flying from Chicago to Los Angeles back in 1953 (or 1941) would have been daunting enough, but to do it without a chance to stop in San Francisco on the way back East would have been a total non-starter.

**Even though it had supposedly been thought of as early as 1941, when Pearl Harbor allegedly was the only thing that kiboshed the Browns' move to LA. I say "allegedly" because while the move had been approved by the city council of Los Angeles, the American League owners had yet to sign on.
   54. Morty Causa Posted: February 28, 2014 at 03:53 PM (#4664227)
Oh, and by the way, Veeck thought very highly of Tom Yawkey. :>)
   55. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 28, 2014 at 06:23 PM (#4664303)
Oh, and by the way, Veeck thought very highly of Tom Yawkey. :>)

Hell, why not? Why bite the hand that tosses a pennant into your lap? If Yawkey had gone after Larry Doby, Veeck would've had to figure out how to win the World Series with Catfish Metkovich as his starting centerfielder.
   56. Zach Posted: February 28, 2014 at 08:01 PM (#4664332)
Now newly discovered evidence blows away the conspiracy theory surrounding the franchise move.

I originally read this as "newly doctored evidence..."

Overly honest methods.
   57. Buck Coats Posted: March 04, 2014 at 01:20 AM (#4665865)
When Baltimore replaced the St. Louis Browns in the circuit, it was classified as a western team for scheduling purposes, so the Senators and Orioles never played at home on the same day. If Kansas City replaced Philadelphia, the A’s would go into the West and Baltimore to the East.


Could somebody explain this part of the article? How did scheduling work back then?

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