This Day in Baseball History: February 25th, 1972

Does he not look like Jamie Moyer in this picture?

On February 25, 1972:

The St. Louis Cardinals traded Steve Carlton to the Philadelphia Phillies for Rick Wise.

In 1971, Steve Carlton rebounded from the worst year of his career to win 20 games while posting a 3.56 ERA. Though good, it was about as good as the previous season, and it was much worse than the three seasons previous (all sub-3 seasons). Rick Wise had just won 17 games while posting a 2.88 ERA, but he had been somewhat erratic in his early career. One great season followed by a dismal one. Still, he had thrown a no-hitter that season while hitting two home runs in the same game, a record that has never been matched. The two pitchers were 26 and 25 that season, and both seemed destined for successful careers with their respective teams until Gussie Busch stepped in.

Carlton asked for a raise, but Busch refused to acquiesce. The struggle between the two became so great that Busch ordered Carlton to be traded. The Cardinals found a willing team in the lowly Philadelphia Phillies. The two teams traded young pitchers, but the trade wouldn’t work out too well for Busch and the Cardinals.

Carlton went on to have one of those historic seasons. He won 27 games while throwing 346 innings, and in the meantime, he posted a meager 1.97 ERA. All would be career bests while Carlton went on to win the first of his four Cy Young Awards. He, in fact, won all of his Cy Youngs with the Philadelphia Phillies. Most of his 347 wins came as a Phillie, and most remember him as a Phillie, even though he played six seasons in St. Louis and could have been one heck of a duo with Bob Gibson.

Rick Wise … didn’t have a Hall of Fame career. Though to be fair, he would go on to post a 32-28 record with low-3 ERA’s in his two seasons in St. Louis. He would be traded away for Reggie Smith and Ken Tatum, and while Smith would post two great seasons in St. Louis, he would not be the Hall of Famer Carlton was. Tatum never made an appearance. Wise would go on to finish a solid career, winning 19 games for the Red Sox in 1975, but his career was basically over after 1976 with a brief resurgence in 1979.

This is panned as one of the worst trades ever, but I’m not sure it comes close. Sure, the Cardinals gave up one of the top 3 or 4 lefties ever, but Wise still did okay for St. Louis and he brought Smith, who did pretty well while in St. Louis. This wasn’t a good trade, but it certainly wasn’t the worst, especially considering both looked pretty good in 1971.


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