Get your birthday hats and party favors out, it’s time for “This week in St. Louis Sports Birthdays” (pretend that being said in Mel Allen’s voice). By coincidence, the athletes we’re celebrating this week also make up a unique theme – all of them happened to be involved in “notable” trades at some point during their careers in St. Louis. Some were memorable for the right reasons and some not so much..
Chris Pronger (1974)
The hugely controversial deal that Mike Keenan pulled off in July 1995 turned out pretty solid, when he sent Blues favorite Brendan Shanahan to the Hartford Whalers in return for 21-year old Pronger. Perhaps “solid” isn’t the best way to describe the deal seven years later when the Blues sent him to Edmonton in exchange for Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch and Jeff Woywitka.
Placido Polanco (1975)
At the 2002 trade deadline, Polanco, Bud Smith and Mike Timlin were the guys it took for the Cardinals to snag Scott Rolen. What flew under the radar in the deal was that the package the Cardinals offered was not just enough to score Rolen, but also a guy named Doug Nickle. Doug Nickle = Steal.
Curt Ford (1960)
After four years bouncing back and forth between AAA and the Cardinals, Ford was packaged up with Steve Lake and sent to Philly for Milt Thompson. In a shocking development that I had no clue about until reading his Baseball-Reference page, Milt Thompson actually finished 17th in the NL MVP voting in 1989, his first year with the Cardinals. Swear to god.
Dmitri Young (1973)
Just a year into his eventual 13-year career, Cardinals management had apparently seen enough to send Dmitri Young to Cincinnati in exchange for Jeff Brantley, arguably the worst closer to have manned the bullpen during the LaRussa era. Straight up.
We’re going to give that one to Cincinnati.
Scott Cooper (1967)
He was a local boy coming off two All Star seasons in Boston and, because he was basically blocked at his natural position of third base by Wade Boggs, the Cardinals stole him for Rheal Cormier and Mark Whiten. Just like that, the Birds had a new star to build around.
Then Cooper threw up a season of .230/.321/.313 with 3HR and 40RBI in 118 games. After that the Cardinals decided free agency was a better option for the local boy.
Tim McCarver (1941)
After 12 years catching for the Cardinals, McCarver was packaged up with a handful of others and sent to the Phillies for Dick Allen, Jerry Johnson and Cookie Rojas. What was notable about it? It just so happened that one of the “handful of other players” in the deal on the Cardinals side was Curt Flood who refused to report to Philadelphia for the deal, claimed to the commissioner that he was legally a free agent and ultimately had his case heard by the US Supreme Court. He didn’t win, but his stance is considered a major step towards free agency in MLB which was legally granted for the first time 6 years later.
Oh yeah, Tim McCarver also does World Series broadcasting for Fox with Joe Buck.