by Harold Friend
One of baseball's great off-the-field actions that affect on-the-field results are trades.
Free agency has changed things because most trades now involve players whose salary demands are difficult to meet for some teams, which often results in a star being sent to a rich team for prospects.
It Takes Time to Evaluate a Trade
It takes a few seasons to evaluate a trade, and with all the player movement today, it is difficult to remember the players involved in a trade without, as Casey Stengel used to say, looking it up, but it used to be different,
Major leaguers were traded for other major leaguers, not for prospects. Hindsight illustrates how often experts are wrong.
Hector Lopez and Ralph Terry to the Yankees
On May 26, 1959, the New York Yankees went to their Kansas City friends to obtain infielder Hector Lopez and right-handed pitcher Ralph Terry. In return, Kansas City received the services of right-handers Tom Sturdivant and Johnny Kucks, and infielder Jerry Lumpe.
It was the 14th trade between the teams since the Philadelphia Athletics moved to Kansas City. Most viewed the trade as a toss-up.
Camilo Pascual for Tom Sturdivant
In 1956, the Yankees were about to send Sturdivant to the Senators for 22 year-old right hander Camilo Pascual, who had been 2-12 in 1955.
The Yankees called off the trade at the last minute, and when Sturdivant won 16 games in 1956 and again in 1957, while Pascual struggled, not making the trade was viewed as a sagacious move, but time is the great equalizer.
Camilo Pascual Becomes a Star
Tom Sturdivant developed arm problems, while Pascual developed into an ace, winning 20 games in 1962 and 21 in 1963. Pascual was a solid pitcher until 1969, winning 174 games.
Sturdivant retired after the 1964 season, never winning more than nine games. He finished with 59 career wins.
Johnny Kucks' Short Career
Johnny Kucks met a fate similar to that of Tom Sturdivant.
In 1956, Johnny was an 18-game winner at the age of 22, including a shut out in the seventh game of the World Series, but his career ended after the 1960 season.
He never won more than 8 games in a season after 1956 and won only 54 games.
Jerry Lumpe was a good spray hitter who became a decent second baseman with the's and Tigers, He had his best season in 1962, when he hit .300. Lumpe retired at the age of 34 in 1964 with a .268 lifetime average.
Hector "What a Pair of Hands" Lopez
Hector Lopez did fairly well for the Yankees as a defensively challenged, platooned left fielder. A New York baseball writer dubbed him "Hector 'What a Pair of Hands' Lopez," but Hector was adequate defensively most of the time.
Surprisingly, he never cost the Yankees any significant games, despite his horrible .970 fielding percentage as a left fielder.
Lopez had been a solid hitter with Kansas City. He hit .290 with 15 home runs in his rookie season of 1955, and was batting .281 with six home runs at the time of the trade. He finished the 1959 season with a .283 average and 16 home runs.
His best season with the Yankees was 1960, when he hit .284 with 9 home runs, but when Ralph Houk replaced Casey Stengel, whose sin was getting old, as Yankees' manager, Lopez became a part-time outfielder.
Ralph Terry's Extremes
Ralph Terry was another story. The Yankees signed the 18-year-old Terry in 1953, traded him to Kansas City in 1957, and got him back in 1959. When the trade was made, Casey Stengel thought that the change of scenery might help the disappointing Terry.
"He looked like a fine prospect with us a few years ago, but I understand that after we traded him to the A's, Harry Craft (Athletics' manager) never was quite satisfied with him. Maybe with a fresh start in New York, he'll do better."
Terry went to extremes. He gave up the ninth inning home run that ended the 1960 World Series, and then he shut out the power-hitting Giants in the seventh game of the 1962 World Series.
His major league career began at the age of 20, and he was finished when he was 30, although he hung on for another season.
Bill Veeck and Frank Lane Were Upset
The Hector Lopez trade was not viewed as earth-shattering, but White Sox owner and Indians general manger Frank Lane were upset, because they thought that the trade would help the Yankees.
Veeck and Lane pointed out the number of trades the Yankees had made with their cousins in Kansas City as an example of a questionable situation.
The Yankees lost the pennant in 1959 for the first time since 1954, despite obtaining Hector Lopez and Ralph Terry.
Bill Veeck's Go-Go Sox won the pennant, and Frank Lane's Indians finished second, five games behind the Sox and 10 games ahead of the Yankees.
That winter, the Yankees did make a significant trade with Kansas City. They obtained a left-handed hitting outfielder who many still consider the holder of the record for the most home runs in a single season.
By JOHN DREBINGER. (1959, May 27). Yanks Get Lopez, Terry From A's :Sturdivant, Lumpe and Kucks Traded to Kansas City. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 40. Retrieved July 31, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 80581097).