Biggest Trades in Dodgers History, 1972-1979

Howard Cole

Los Angeles Dodgers history, that is, and this is part two in a series.

It's also one example of what and how we'll attempt to keep you busy with Dodgers-related material while there are no games to watch, no trade rumors to devour and just plain nothin'. This particular piece, lightly-edited from its original form, ran as a 2008 "Off Base" column at my old personal site, BaseballSavvy.com (yes, that's BS for short). Be warned that the site is long-dormant and filled with bugs and cranks now, so please don't hold the weirdness against me.

You'll notice a number of references to batting average and pitcher wins, but it was 2008, remember, so please don't hold that against me either. Here goes:

November 28, 1972: General Manager Al Campanis sent Frank Robinson, Bill Singer, Mike Strahler, Billy Grabarkewitz and Bobby Valentine to the California Angels for Andy Messersmith and ex-Dodger Ken McMullen.

McMullen had had some good years with the Washington Senators after being part of the big Claude Osteen for Frank Howard trade (see part one ) in 1964, and was coming off a nice season in Anaheim (21 home runs and 68 RBIs while playing 160 games), but did not match that success in L.A. the second time around.

Messersmith, known as the Baron, was a mulitple-season star in Anaheim and Los Angeles. He won 14 games in 1973, pitching 249 2/3 innings, with an ERA of 2.70 and a 1.093 WHIP, and was runner-up to Mike Marshall in the National League Cy Young balloting the next season.

In 1974, Messersmith finished 20-6, with a 2.59 and 1.098 in 293 innings. He followed up in '75 by tossing 321 innings, completing 19 of his 40 starts, going 19-14 with a 2.29 and 1.057. Dodgers get the best of this trade.

December 5, 1973: Willie Davis to Montreal for reliever, Mike Marshall. Painful at the time, it turned out a winner for Los Angeles. Davis played 14 years in center for the Dodgers and was their best player for stretches during that time. More about Davis here.

Without Marshall, there would have been no World Series for the Dodgers to lose to Oakland in 1974. He finished two spots behind Steve Garvey for the NL Most Valuable Player Award that season, and with his remarkable year out of the bullpen took home the Cy Young Award. We're talking 15 wins in 106 games, the latter still standing as a major league record. He finished 83 games, saved 21, pitched 208 innings, with 143 strikeouts and a 2.42 ERA.

Marshall also relieved in 13 consecutive games in 1974, which would still be a major league record today, if not for the shameful managing of Bobby Valentine in 1986, who literally handed his Texas Rangers hurler Dale Mohorcic a share of it by using him solely to get the record, whether the game situation called for it or not. Dale Mohorcic, of all people.

December 6, 1973. Claude Osteen and Dave Culpepper to the Astros for Jim Wynn, who passed away last week. Osteen had just concluded a run of 11 consecutive seasons with well over 200 innings pitched, and 10 straight with double-figure victories, nine of them with the Dodgers. The operative word there being "concluded." Getting Wynn from Houston climaxed a pretty good 24 hours worth of Winter Meetings work for Campanis and was key in bringing a pennant to Los Angeles.

The Toy Cannon took over for Davis in center and proceeded to hit .271, with 32 homers, 104 runs, a career high 108 RBIs, and a fifth-place finish in the MVP voting. As with other acquisitions cited in this series, this one good deal led to another, even better one.

November 17, 1975: Wynn, with Lee Lacy, Tom Paciorek and Jerry Royster to Atlanta for Dusty Baker and Ed Goodson. While Lacy, Paciorek and Royster all went on to fine careers, none mattered as much to their teams as Baker did to the Dodgers. And Lacy was traded back to L.A. seven months later.

Baker was one of those guys who took a year to adjust, struggling to a .242 average, with four homers and 39 RBIs in 1976, but for the next seven seasons was a fixture in left field for the Dodgers. Along with Garvey, Ron Cey and Reggie Smith, Baker hit 30 home runs in 1977, which at the time had not been accomplished by any foursome in baseball history.

He played in four postseasons with L.A ('1977, '78, '81 and '83) and with his team missed out on two more on the final day of the season (including a one-game playoff loss to Houston in 1980). Postseason career numbers, all with the Dodgers, include a .282/.341/.443, five homers and 21 RBIs.

While here Baker was an All-Star twice and a top ten MVP finisher twice, adding a Gold Glove and two Silver Sluggers. With his grand slam in Game 2, he won a National League Championship Series MVP in 1977.

May 2, 1975: Another steal for Campanis. Downright larceny, actually. Geoff Zahn and Eddie Solomon to the Cubs for Burt Hooton. Nicknamed "Happy" because he rarely looked happy, Hooton won 97 Dodger games over the next seven seasons, was 18-7 right out of the gate in 1975 and a Cy Young runner-up in 1978, when he went 19-10, with a 2.71 ERA and a 1.089 WHIP. He was an All-Star and NLCS MVP in 1981 and tossed 20 shutouts as a Dodger. Starting 11 October games for the club, Hooton won five of them, while recording an ERA of 3.17, in seven postseason series.

June 15, 1976: Joe Ferguson, Bob Detherage and Fred Tisdale to St. Louis for Reggie Smith. Fergie was a valuable Dodger both before and after this deal, but getting Smith was another coup for Los Angeles; a trade they simply had to make. Smith was a full-time producer just two of his five seasons in L.A., but they were two pennant winning seasons, in 1977 and 1978.

In '77, Reggie hit .307, with 32 homers and 87 RBIs, following up with .295, 29 and 93. He was a Clemente-like right fielder, a leader on and off the field (and in the stands) and a member of the 1981 World Series championship Dodgers club.

April 7, 1979: Advantage Dodgers. Ya think? Rick Rhoden to the Bucs for Jerry Reuss. In 1980, '81, '83 and '85, Reuss had four difference-making seasons in Los Angeles, the latter three resulting in postseason appearances for the club. He was an 18-game winner twice for L.A. and a key rotation man for much of his eight years here.

Most prominent among Reuss' achievements in blue was his World Series Game 5 victory over Ron Guidry and the New York Yankees. With Lou Pinella singling home Reggie Jackson in the second inning, the Yanks led 1-0 all afternoon, until back-to-back homers by Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager turned things around in the seventh. Reuss got the final six outs, the Dodgers won 2-1 and took the Series with a 9-2 win three days later at Yankee Stadium.

Part 3 coming soon. And remember, glove conquers all.

Howard Cole has been writing about baseball on the internet since Y2K. Follow him on Twitter.

Comments (22)
No. 1-11
chin music
chin music

Great article... I remember every one of those trades, but not with the details you provide.... the year four Dodgers hit 30 homers, I was a huge Dusty Baker fan...

Ericmonson
Ericmonson

Although Messersmith was a very good Dodger, I hated HATED HATEDHATED giving up Bobby Valentine. He had just led the PCL in everything but home runs and was probably going to be the best Dodger in that tremendous draft class era in the late 60s. Then we traded him away and he met that stupid center field fence in Anaheim that ruined his career. I know that Bill Russell was "blocking" him at short, but Russell would never be the player that Valentine was bound to be.

Blue Evan
Blue Evan

After ‘76 I thought the Dusty Baker trade was a bust. Good thing Dusty found his stroke the next year. He was a great Dodger who was clutch for years with them. When he was let go it was in the midst of the Pittsburgh Pirates drug scandal in the early 80s. His name was thrown out there. Perhaps by the Campanis administration. I don’t think Dusty ever forgave the Dodger organization for that.

JustYouAndMeEhChief
JustYouAndMeEhChief

Fun to read. Here's another, 1977 - Buckner & Ivan DeJesus for Rick Monday. If memory serves, that turned out to be a good one.

MichaelPBarber
MichaelPBarber

Excellent piece, Howard. I didn’t realize that Campanis had so many successes. This was fascinating!

DougM56
DougM56

Can’t wait to see what’s next.
Ken Landreux, Enos Cabel, Bill Madlock

JC60
JC60

Great article, Howard. It brought back a lot of memories. Time goes by so fast. Seems like yesterday that I was younger than all of the players. 😟

J.B. Ellis
J.B. Ellis

Some great history in these moves. Some of the names wow. Which was the biggest or most important one tho??

Donniedeporte
Donniedeporte

Wow way back Messersmith then Lacy

Donniedeporte
Donniedeporte

These take me way back. I remember those names, watching Messersmith putching vs As as a young kid in to baseball. Thanks for taking us back Howard.

HospitalDude
HospitalDude

Grabbing Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and a useful Nick Punto for primarily Ivan De Jesus and James Loney was a steal. At the time I thought the Dodgers were nuts for getting rid of a promising Rubby De La Rosa in the trade but he ended up being a bust.

Manny Ramirez had an uber productive two seasons for the likes of Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris.


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