Monday, May 9, 2016

Backing Up the Truck: Ron Santo

The next of the '69 Cubs to be jettisoned was Ron Santo.  He was traded to the Angels on December 4, 1973.  The Cubs got pitchers Andy Hassler and Bruce Heinbechner.

But they didn't.

Ron Santo became the first player in MLB history to exercise his right to refuse a trade.  The recent players agreement gave a 10 year veteran with five years on the same team the right to refuse a trade.  Santo had no interest in going out west.  He had been in Chicago for 14 years and his roots were deeply entrenched in the Windy City.

He told the Cubs GM John Holland that he had no interest in playing anywhere except Chicago.  If the Cubs were going to move Santo, their only option was the White Sox.  And the Sox knew it, too.

All Star slugger Bill Melton was the Sox third baseman.  They had no reason to get Ron Santo.  And if they wanted to get him, knowing that he would only take a trade to the South Side, the Sox should have been able to get him for a bag of balls and a slice of Ron Santo pizza.

Somehow, the Cubs were able to work out a trade and send Santo across town.  He was moved on December 111, 1973.  The shock to me with the traded is that the Cubs got four players in return: Pitchers Steve Stone, Ken Frailing, Jim Kremmel, and catcher Steve Swisher.  The Cubs got more from the Sox than what they were going to get a week earlier from the Angels.

Kudos to the Cubs GM for this one...he got more from the team that had him over a barrel than from the Angels.



Turns out everyone pretty much got a whole lot of nothing with the trade:

Santo with the Sox... 117 games, .221 average, 5 HR, 41 RBI
Steve Stone with the Cubs... 23-20, 4.04 ERA
Ken Frailing with the Cubs...9-16, 4.16 ERA
Jim Kremmel with the Cubs... 0-2, 5.23 ERA
Steve Swisher with the Cubs...366 games, .217 average...but he was an All Star in 1976...because the Cubs were really bad that year and there had to be at least one All Star from each team.  Sparky Anderson needed a third catcher and the Cubs needed and All Star.


  1. Very sad story with this non-trade. Bruce Heinbechner was killed in an auto accident just a couple months later, March of 1974. Santo said that haunted him for a long while, that if he had accepted the trade, would Heinbechner still been alive.

    1. Wow. Never heard that before. I can understand Ron's feelings.