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BEWARE OF THE BOOMERANG!
William Leggett
June 03, 1968
Torturing former teammates is a labor of love for baseball players. With ticket hustling and expansion causing more trades all the time, the revenge of the outcast is having an increasing effect on who finishes where in the pennant races
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June 03, 1968

Beware Of The Boomerang!

Torturing former teammates is a labor of love for baseball players. With ticket hustling and expansion causing more trades all the time, the revenge of the outcast is having an increasing effect on who finishes where in the pennant races

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That should have been enough of a lesson to general managers, but of course trades do make winners as well as losers. Baseball's biggest winners today are the world-champion Cardinals, in whose dugout is one Orlando Cepeda, who came from San Francisco in 1966. Cepeda has produced six game-winning hits against San Francisco, and often he will walk up and down in the dugout with his hands outstretched to form what looks like a large stomach. Giant Manager Herman Franks has a large stomach, but perhaps that is a coincidence.

Phil Regan, the ex-Dodger now-Cub, sums up the feelings of traded players well. "When I go in to pitch against the Dodgers I am more excited than usual," says Regan. "You've got to try harder against your old team. Mostly it's professional pride—you want to show them that you're just as good playing for someone else, or maybe even better, than you were with them. I know that if they hit me well, they're going to ride me really good. It might not come out right away, but soon they'll really give it to me. And their riding will be tougher to take because they know me so well and can hit me in a tender spot easily. It's all joking, but it's still embarrassing and annoying. There isn't any team I want to beat more than I want to beat the Dodgers."

And so has it always been. Woody Held a year ago beating the Orioles three times in three days right after they sent him to California, and Rocky Colavito beating Cleveland twice for the White Sox the week the Indians let him go. Or perhaps it's Curt Simmons pitching against the Philadelphia Phillies after being released by them. It was like magic. St. Louis used Simmons against the Phillies every time the slightest chance arose and, not only did he pitch well, he had some marvelous nights as a hitter. Once he tripled, stole home and had two runs batted in. When Simmons left baseball last season his lifetime record against Philadelphia was 19-6.

"Listen," says Jimmy Piersall, the often-traded and colorful performer who once chased gnats in the outfield with a flit gun and dropkicked a fan out of centerfield, "don't you ever believe that stuff about playing the same against everyone. I remember when the Red Sox traded me to Cleveland in 1958. I was stunned and hurt and when I went in there to play against them they had a big crowd. I got two hits and was happy because we won the game. I had felt that Joe Cronin, who was the general manager, had hurt me financially at the time, because I had some business deals going around Boston and other things. That first year against Boston I was only so-so but the next year I got an awful lot of key hits against them. I really wound old Joe's watch for him that year. You've just got to get yourself up against teams that trade you."

Jimmy Piersall now works for the Angels and runs baseball camps in California for youngsters. His record as an Angel until 1966 against the teams that traded him is the last word on the boomerang effect. Against Washington. Piersall hit .300. Against Cleveland, it was .348. Against dear old Boston, .436. That's something for a general manager to think about the next time he gets a case of trade fever.

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