This Day in Baseball History: April 2nd, 1976

Didn’t know he played for the Orioles. You learn something new every day.

On April 2, 1976:

The Oakland A’s traded Reggie Jackson, Ken Holtzman, and Bill Van Bommel to the Baltimore Orioles for Don Baylor, Mike Torrez, and Paul Mitchell.

Lots of productive players switched teams on this day, but they did mainly because of one reason — free-agency. Free-agency was just beginning and Jackson and Baylor would be eligible for free-agency after the season. The A’s, especially, knew they couldn’t afford Jackson and decided to get something for him.

Though both sides received a few names, the production really didn’t match up for the season. For the Orioles, Reggie Jackson didn’t show up for a month, but when he did, he crushed the ball, hitting a 155 OPS+. He would, however, head off for greener pastures, snubbing the Expos highest offer to go to New York. After four consecutive 18+ win seasons, Ken Holtzman looked like a great arm to be added to the rotation, but he wasn’t the same pitcher and was traded mid-season to the Yankees, where he was much worse. Holtzman played 3 more awful seasons. And Bill Van Bommel … was never really heard from.

For the A’s, Don Baylor had seemingly stepped up in his age 26 season the year before, but he fell to one of his worst seasons of his career in 1976. The year after, he got back on track with the California Angels. Mike Torrez, like Holtzman, was a blossoming pitcher, having won 20 games the season before, but unlike Holtzman, he would pitch really well for his new team with a 2.50 ERA. The next season, he was, oddly enough, also traded to the Yankees, where he was just decent. Torrez would go on to be decent for the Red Sox over the following five seasons. Paul Mitchell, similar to Van Bommel, was mainly a throw-in. As a 25-year old, he was okay in his 57 innings the year before, but he was a full run over the league average in 1976. Mitchell pitched 4 more seasons, continuing his mediocrity.

Both teams finished second in their division, missing out on the playoffs.


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