Here, each week, SI takes a quick, probing look at the most dramatic or significant baseball news:
Not even the firing of Charlie Grimm as manager of the Milwaukee Braves caused as much discussion and excitement as the big eight-man trade between the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Giants. It set some to wondering again if baseball was a matter of inhuman barter, but even more to arguing about who had got the better of the exchange. A National League executive placed the combined value of the players involved at more than half a million dollars. His analysis:
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
That put a net $5,000 on the St. Louis side of the ledger. But when General Manager Frank Lane of the Cardinals was shown these figures he said excitedly, "See? Didn't I say the trade was an even one?"
Perhaps so. According to Lane, it had become obvious that the Cardinals could not win the pennant with the infield they had. "We were playing Blasingame, a fine young second base-man, at shortstop and Moon, a fine young center fielder, at first base. Dark and Lockman give the club a solid man at every position for the first time this year." But St. Louis fans, who have never really forgiven the sale of Country Slaughter, were wrathful. Cried one: "If you're not a Cardinal fan you can't understand what it means to have Red gone."
The Giants, who had had excellent pitching, had faltered under the double burden of miserably weak hitting (last in the league in home runs, a damning indictment in view of those short Polo Grounds fences) and terribly inept fielding. Schoendienst, Brandt and Ed Bressoud—a glittering young shortstop brought up from the Giant farm system—were figured to bring vast improvement in both categories, particularly fielding.
First returns in a trade are as inconclusive as they are in elections, but New York drew first blood. Schoendienst, who got a heart-warming reception in the Polo Grounds, hit a dramatic pinch-hit home run in his very first time at bat as a Giant. Yet in the clubhouse after the game he looked strangely forlorn away from his old teammates. Red played 11 full seasons with the Cardinals and never with any other major league club. The Cardinals, that same night, were thrashed by the Pirates 12-1. Lockman and Dark made three hits between them in their debut, but to the dismay of St. Louis and the glee of New York they also made three widely publicized errors.