Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Trader Frank" strikes again

 “Trader Frank” was one of the nicknames for longtime baseball executive Frank Lane who was not afraid to make controversial trades.  On April 17, 1960; Easter Sunday, Lane pulled off one of his most head turning trades.  As the General Manager for the Cleveland Indians, he traded Indian outfielder Rocky Colavito to the Detroit Tigers for outfielder Harvey Kuenn.  Colavito, a Cleveland fan favorite, was the 1959 American League home run co-champion in; hitting 42.  Kuenn was the 1959 American League batting champion, hitting .353.   

Neither club was helped by the 1960 trade, Kuenn’s batting average dropped 48 points to .308 and the Indians finished in fourth place after finishing second the previous season.  Colavito hit 7 less home runs (35) and the Tigers dropped from finishing fourth in 1959 to sixth place in 1960.

The results of the trade got worse for the Indians after the season.  Lane traded Kuenn to the San Francisco Giants on December 3 for Willie Kirkland and Johnny Antonelli; neither of which had great success in Cleveland.  But Colavito had three strong years with the Tigers (1961 – 1963) averaging 34 home runs and 114 RBI. 

Lane left Cleveland after the 1960 season.  The Indians were the third of five Major League baseball teams he held the position of General Manager during his baseball executive career beginning in the late 1940’s until the early 1970’s in which he made over 400 trades.

What is your most memorable Frank Lane trade?

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