I remember one night listening to a bit of Jays Talk after a game and somebody calling in to ask a question about possibly trading Kevin Gregg. You remember Kevin Gregg, right? He was the closer back in 2010 and somehow managed to save a pile of games even though he was kind of awful. Every time he came out to pitch, it was tense. Were you going to get competent Kevin or the guy who couldn’t find the strike zone with a compass and an atlas and never threw a pitch that even the worst hitter on Earth couldn’t send to fucking Mars? Anyway, this guy asks this question and I, out of frustration because being a Jays fan hasn’t always been as fun as it was the last couple of years, said “the hell are they going to get for him, a bag of chips and a squeegee?” I know that’s what I said because Carin laughed far more than I expected at it and to this day brings it up when she senses that somebody isn’t very good at sportsing.
I then remember her laughter turning to a bit of bemusement when I explained that trades like that actually do happen in real life and not just in Pissed Off Steve Land. Over the years, guys have been traded for food, clothes, equipment, money to build a fence…you name it. In fact, since we’re talking about it, here are 25 times it’s happened.
And here are a couple of examples:
Keith Comstock for a Bag of Balls
Keith Comstock actually went on to piece together a long career for himself, which considering where he started was a big accomplishment. After starting in professional baseball in 1976, he spent 14 years in the minor leagues before making it up to the Majors and winning seven games out of the Mariners’ bullpen in 1990. Along the way, he was given the double indignity of not only being traded for a bag of baseballs (and $100), but having to deliver said baseballs to the minor league facility of his new team.
Lefty Grove for a Fence
Ah, the good ole days when a baseball team could be so cash-poor that they didn’t even have a fence around their field. Such was the case for the Martinsburg Mountaineers of the Blue Ridge League, who lacked financial resources but had one major asset: Lefty Grove. When the minor league (at the time) Baltimore Orioles came clamoring for Grove’s services, Martinsburg saw an opportunity and took it. They sold their ace for $3,500, enough for them to finally get that dream fence around their field. The players probably appreciated it, considering to that point they had been forced to play the entire regular season on the road because of the condition of their home field.