Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sandwich To Be Named Later

"Right this way, Mr. Winfield. Your table is ready."

Weren't the '90's a crazy time? Al Gore invented the Internet, there were snap bracelets, and in 1994 baseball players went on strike. Since the season ended prematurely, there was no World Series*. This made many people sad, angry and drove some completely away from the game until Cal Ripken Jr. single-handily brought them back. However, that's not all we have to thank the '94 strike for. We have the '94 strike to thank for the craziest trade in MLB history. Feast your eyes on this gem...

The entry in baseball-reference.com regarding a transaction involving Dave Winfield:
  • July 31, 1994: Purchased by the Cleveland Indians from the Minnesota Twins.

Not too crazy, right? Nothing out of the ordinary here, you exclaim? Well...The following blurb comes courtesy of answers.com:

  • "During the 1994 baseball strike, which began on August 12, Winfield was traded to the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline on July 31 for a "player to be named later." The 1994 season was canceled two weeks later, so Winfield did not play for the Indians that year and no player was ever named in exchange. To settle the trade, Cleveland and Minnesota executives went to dinner, with the Indians picking up the tab. This makes Winfield the only player in major league history to be traded for a dinner."
Wait...what? Dave Winfield was traded for a player to be named later, but since the strike hit before he could actually ever play a game for his new team, no other "player" was ever named, and he became a free agent at the end of the '94 season, the GM's just went to dinner and called the whole thing even?!

Wikipedia offers a little more clarification:
  • "In some trades, one of the components is a "player to be named later" which usually turns out to be a minor league player. The unnamed player is included as part of a trade when the teams cannot immediately agree on a specific player or when the player is not yet eligible to be traded. In these cases, the player in question must be named within six months. Cash or other considerations may be exchanged in lieu of the player to be named later. For example, during the 1994 Major League Baseball strike, the Minnesota Twins traded Dave Winfield to the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline. Among the conditions of the trade were that if the Indians played no more games in 1994, "Indians general manager John Hart must write a check for $100 made out to the Minnesota Twins and take Twins general manager Andy MacPhail out to dinner."

So, let me get this straight - John Hart and Andy MacPhail saw the handwriting on the wall in July - the looming strike - and built into the deal a clause saying if Winfield doesn't get to play for the Indians, then Hart will just treat MacPhail to a nice steak dinner?

Yes, that's exactly what happened.

My God do I love baseball.


* Funny story about the lack of World Series in 1994, I actually bought an official ball with "1994 World Series" on it. It would have been used had they not gone on strike...or so they tell me. Got it in one of those plastic cubes on my desk. It's a helluva conversation piece.




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