On June 4, 1953 a monster of a trade took place between the two National League last place teams. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs consummated a 10 player trade. Pittsburgh traded home run king Ralph Kiner, catcher Joe Garagiola, pitcher Howie Pollet and outfielder Catfish Metkovich to Chicago for first baseman Preston Ward, catcher Toby Atwell, pitcher Bob Schultz, young third baseman George Freese and outfielders Gene Hermanski and Bob Addis and $150,000.
Review the major league baseball teams
This was the trade which was to set a new tone in Chicago and Pittsburgh. Instead, it produced more of the same. Losing!
The Pirates and Cubs were annual cellar dwellers from around 1946 to most of the 1950s. As a fact the Pirates last posted a winning record in 1945, a 82-72 mark, than not until 1959 did Pittsburgh reach .500 ball. Note: the Pittsburgh Pirates won the 1960 World Series. The Cubs fared no better. After winning the NL pennant in 1945 and winning 82 and losing 71 in 1946, the Cubs compiled losing records for the next 16 seasons, 1947 thru 1962, then a 82-80 record in 1963. Note #2: the National League had eight teams in one division in this time.
1953 National League Standings
Brooklyn Dodgers 105-49... Milwaukee Braves 92-62 -13 GB... Philadelphia Phillies 83-71 - 22 GB... St. Louis Cardinals 83-71 - 22 GB... New York Giants 70-84 - 35 GB... Cincinnati Reds 68-86 - 65-86 - 37 GB... Chicago Cubs 65-89 - 40 GB... Pittsburgh Pirates 50-104 - 55 GB
Reviewing the baseball players
Ralph Kiner, born in Santa Rita, New Mexico. Ralph Kiner led all NL baseball players in home runs for seven consecutive seasons, 1946 thru 1952, including his rookie season of '46. The 6-foot 2 inch, 195 lbs slugger lined 23hrs, 51, 40, 54, 47, 42, and 37. Ralph Kiner had over 100 RBIs in five straight years, 1947-1951. Ralph Kiner is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. After retiring from playing in 1955, he was a television and radio announcer.
Gene Hermanski, born in Pittsfield, Mass. A fleet footed outfielder, Gene Hermanski hit .299 in 87 games for the 1949 pennant winning Brooklyn Dodgers, and in the World Series lined 4 hits in 13 at bats including a triple, scored once and had 2 RBis. He began in baseball in 1939. Made his major league debut in 1943, playing in 18 games for Dodgers. Gene Hermanski did a 3-year hitch in military service, 1943-45. He returned for the 1946 season and participated in 64 games. In 1948 Gene Hermanski compiled an average of .290 in 133 games.
Howie Pollet, born in New Orleans. Howie Pollet broke into the majors with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1941 and the stylish southpaw was manager Eddie Dyer's 5th starter and long reliever for his first three years in the majors. He served in the Military and missed the1944-1945 seasons. Upon his return to the Cardinals in 1946 he became one of baseball's best pitchers. Pollet was 21-10 in 1946 and his 2.10 ERA was second best in the league. In 1947 he dropped to 9-11 but was 13-8 in 1948. Howie Pollet bounced back in 1949, his 20-9 record was one of only two to win 20 games in the National League, and his 2.77 ERA was again 2nd best in the circuit. Arm injuries plagued him in 1951 and he only pitched in 6 games that year and was then shipped to the last place Pirates where he went only 7-16, 4.12 ERA. He was traded to the Cubs in 1954 and pitched there for parts of two years before retiring. Howie Pollet career. 131-116, 3.51 ERA. Bio by baseball historian
Joe Garagiola, born in St Louis. Joe Garagiola as a rookie in 1946 with the St. Louis Cardinals, who finished in a dead heat for the first place with Brooklyn, Joe Garagiola’s performance in the playoffs and the subsequent World Series was significant.
In the first playoff game, he had three singles in four at bats and drove in two runs in a 4-2 victory. His eighth-inning double in Game 1 of the Fall Classic put St. Louis ahead, although the team lost in the tenth. In Game 4 he had four hits and three RBIs as the Cardinals skulled the Red Sox, 12-3. For the Series he batted .316. From 1947-1950 with the Red Birds Joe Garagiola had shared catching duties with Del Rice and Clyde Kluttz that year. After playing with Pitttsburgh, the Bucs dealt him in this trade to the Cubs and Joe Garagiola played just one season and then landed a job with Harry Caray broadcasting the Cardinal games and Joe Garagiola had a new career. was under way. The Cardinals fired Milo Hamilton in order to give the assignment to the former catcher. Garagiola worked hard to improve his on-air skills, but his special combination of insider’s feel for the game, boyish exuberance, and humor made him an immediate standout. He worked with Harry Caray for seven years, and by 1961 he was an announcer for the All-Star Game. Two years later he was calling the World Series. He became a frequent visitor on The Tonight Show, regaling the audience with his yarns, short and long, such as: “Stan Musial comes sauntering up to the plate and asks me how my family’s making out. Before I can answer him, he’s on third base.”
Catfish Metkovich, born in Angel's Camp, California. A quality outfielder and first baseman, Catfish Metkovich joined the majors at age 22, and played his first four major league seasons with the Boston Red Sox, 1943-1946, then was traded to Cleveland in 1947. The 6-ft 1-inch, 185 lbs, George Metkovich had a long reach and made an excellent target while playing first base. His career stats include 4 seasons of at least 20 doubles, and the fact he was a hard man for pitchers to strike out, just 359 times in 3585 at bats.
For complete records of all baseball players, please see Players section on our home page.
Preston Ward, born in the college town of Columbia MO, First baseman Preston Ward had a very solid nine seasons in the major leagues. Brooklyn 1948; Cubs 1950, 1953; Pirates 1953-56; Indians 1956-58; Kansas City A's 1958-59. A level swinging batsman, Preston Ward lined a career-high 12 homers combined during the 1953 with PItts/Chic.
Toby Atwell, born in Leesburg, Virginia. The left-handed hitting Toby Atwell had a standout rookie year for the Chicago Cubs in 1952, hitting .290, with 16 doubles, 3 triples and 2 homers, with 36 runs scored. He was well-regarded by Wrigley Field fans, none-the-less the Cubs traded Toby Atwell in June of his sophomore season. Go Figure!
Bob Addis, born in Mineral Ohio. A high-plains rover in the outfielder, Bob Addis played his first 2 years in the big leagues with the Boston Braves, 1950-51. HIs teammates included Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn, pitcher Johnny Sain, catcher Walter Cooper and outfielders Sid Gordon, Willard Marshall and Sam Jethroe, plus Bob Elliott. A career .281 left-handed batter, Bob Addis played four seasons in the majors.
Bob Schultz, born in Louisville, Kentucky., nicknamed Bill. The lanky 6-ft 3-inch 200 lbs, left-handed Bob Schultz tossed an assortment of pitches, including a fastball, to stymie batters in the minors and four seasons in the major leagues. He was 6-3 in 29 games for the Cubs in his second season in the majors, 1952. Then after starting '53 at 0-2 was traded in this deal to Pirates. He also pitched with Detroit in 1955.
George Freese, born in Wheeling, West Virginia, nick named Bud. George Freese debuted into the major leagues with Detroit in 1953. A third baseman, he was sent to the minors after this trade and later joined the Pirates in 1955, hitting .257 in 51 games. George Freese also played with Cubs in 1961. George is the older brother of former major leaguer Gene Freese.
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