Saturday’s List of 13: Some memorable sports blunders……

13) December 26, 1919— Red Sox trade Babe Ruth to New York, for $100,000. Ruth hit 49 homers in 162 in six years for the Red Sox- he was 89-46, 2.19 in 143 starts on the mound, but in the Bronx, he pitched only five games (5-0, 5.52) but hit 659 home runs. 

Red Sox didn’t win a World Series for 86 years after this trade.

12) April 30, 1956— St Louis Hawks of the NBA draft a big man named Bill Russell with the 2nd pick of the draft, then trade him to the Boston Celtics, for Ed Macauley, who neatr the end of the trail, and Cliff Hagan, who went on to score 17.7 ppg in his NBA career. Not bad. 

Here’s the thing: Bill Russell is one of the five greatest players in basketball history; he was in the NBA for 13 years, and won 11 titles- he lost in the Finals once. Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968; had they held on to Bill Russell, it is safe to say that they’d still be in St Louis.

11) There have been many QB-related blunders in the NFL Draft, but this one stands out:

April 27, 2017, the Chicago Bears gave the 49ers two 3rd-round picks and a 4th-round pick to move up ONE SPOT in the ’17 Draft. Chicago then drafted QB Mitch Trubisky, who is 23-18 as a starter in his three NFL seasons, not a terrible record, but…….

Other players taken in the first round of the 2017 Draft:
2nd— QB Mitch Trubisky, Chicago
3rd— DE Solomon Thomas, San Francisco
8th— RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina
10th— QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City
12th— QB Deshaun Watson, Houston


10) Some more QB-related screw-ups in the NFL Draft:
1994— Redskins took Heath Shuler with the 3rd pick of the draft; he went 4-9 as a starter in three years with Washington, was out of the NFL four years later.
1998— Chargers took Ryan Leaf with the 2nd pick; he went 4-14 as a starter for San Diego, was out of the NFL by 2001.
1999— Bengals took Akili Smith with the 3rd pick; he went 3-14 as a starter over four years, never played for another NFL team.
2007— Raiders took JaMarcus Russell with the 1st pick of the entire draft; in three years, he went 7-18 as a starter, and never played for another NFL team.

9) December 10, 1971— Mets traded 24-year old Nolan Ryan and three other guys to the Angels, for 29-year old SS Jim Fregosi, who had already played 11 years for the Angels, making it to the All-Star Game six times.

Ryan went to pitch for 27 years in the majors, winning 324 games; his last year as a pitcher was Fregosi’s 10th (and best) year as a major league manager. Fregosi hit .233 in two years with the Mets- he played five more years after leaving New York.

8) Drew Brees was a free agent after the 2005 season; his shoulder had been a problem, but it had been worked on, and he was looking to sign on with the Miami Dolphins. Miami doctors advised the Dolphins not to take a risk on his shoulder, so they signed Daunte Culpepper instead of Brees. Yikes.

Culpepper started four games for Miami, went 1-3, was in Oakland the next season. Coach of the Dolphins back then? A guy named Nick Saban, but he bolted for LSU after that season.

Brees is 133-83 as a starter for the Saints, and he is still rolling, all thew ay to the Hall of Fame.

7) Holy Cross’ decision not to join the Big East Conference in 1979, citing a commitment to academics. What a disaster; from 1975-79, the Crusaders went a combined 102-42, making the NCAA’s once, NIT three times- they were good enough to play in the Big East. Not sure how having 12 basketball players in your school screws up the academics of an entire college.

Instead of joining the Big East, which would’ve been lucrative for their lucrative for their athletic department, and made life a lot easier for their fundraisers, Holy Cross joined the Patriot League, where they had a strong run from 2000-07 for Ralph Willard, but for the most part, they’ve been buried in obscurity.

Boston College got the Big East’s invite when Holy Cross turned theirs down.

6) Some NFL Hall of Famers got overlooked in the NFL Draft:
— Tom Brady was a 6th round pick
— Kurt Warner wasn’t picked at all.
— John Unitas was a 9th-round pick in 1955, then the Steelers cut him.

5) August 30, 1990— Red Sox traded 22-year old minor leaguer Jeff Bagwell to Houston, for reliever Larry Andersen; Bagwell went on to hit 449 home runs in a 15-year career with the Astros. He got inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.

37-year old Andersen pitched only 15 games for the Red Sox; he allowed two runs in three IP in the playoffs that fall, and left for San Diego as a free agent that winter. Not often a team gives up a Hall of Famer, for a guy who pitches 25 innings for you.

4) Golfer Jean Van de Velde led the 1999 British Open by three strokes with one hole to play; all he had to do to win his first major was double-bogey the 18th hole, but he triple-bogeyed that hole, then lost in a playoff, a stunning collapse that was difficult to watch.

3) Some NBA trades that wound up one-sded:
January 15, 1965— San Francisco Warriors traded Wilt Chamberlain for Connie Dierking, Paul Neumann (not the actor) and Lee Shaffer.

June 22, 1987— Seattle SuperSonics drafted Scottie Pippen, then traded him to Chicago with another 1st round pick, for 1st and 2nd-round picks, and Olden Polynice.

June 24, 1998— Milwaukee Bucks drafted Dirk Nowitzki, then traded him to Dallas for Robert Traylor, who scored 4.8 ppg in his 7-year NBA career. Oy.

2) Stanford’s band once cost them a ballgame— On November 20, 1982, Cardinal scored with 0:04 left to take the lead against arch-rival Cal; a win that would’ve clinched a bowl bid for Stanford, but Stanford band members (as well as some Cardinal players) ran out onto the field before the Cal ballcarrier was tackled, and the Cal player made his way into the end zone in the craziest ending in college football history.

That was John Elway’s last college football game; he never played in a bowl game until he played in the Super Bowl.

1) Giants moving to San Francisco, while the Dodgers moved to LA— Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley was moving his team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958; he figured that having a second team in California would be a wise business move (for him, at least), so he convinced Giants owner Horace Stoneham to move his club to San Francisco. Stoneham had been looking to move the Giants to Minneapolis.

When the Giants’ owners were brought to Candlestick Point, where their new ballpark was going to be built, they were there during the day, but at nighttime, when games were played, that location next to the bay, often had strong winds often swirled down into the stadium, creating unusual playing conditions.

At the time of its construction in the late 1950s, the stadium site was one of the few pieces of land available in the city that was suitable for a sports stadium and had space for the 10,000 parking spaces promised to the Giants. Compared to Dodger Stadium, Candlestick was a dump, but 50 years later, the Giants built a new ballpark and finally got it right. 

TV highlight of the day: ESPNU showed an old college baseball game, San Diego beating San Francisco 2-0 in the WCC title game, with a freshman reliever getting his first college start, and throwing a shutout. Cubs’ 3B Kris Bryant played for San Diego in this game. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.