Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.
BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: The White Sox once accidentally traded for the wrong player.
James Baldwin broke in with the Chicago White Sox in 1995, coming in second in the Rooke of the Year balloting to Derek Jeter in 1996.
Baldwin was a decent pitcher for the White Sox. He was a prototypical “keeps his team in the game” pitcher, a guy who, while not dominant, does well enough to give his team a good chance of winning the game most times around. He usually stayed roughly around the league average for earned runs allowed. His best season was in 2000, when he won 14 games and lost 7, with an earned run average of 4.65, a little better than league average that season. He made the All Star Team in 2000, as the White Sox made the playoffs.
Baldwin was going to be a free agent after the 2001 season, and in 2001, the White Sox had an off year after making the playoffs in 2000. So they decided to trade Baldwin at the trade deadline in 2001 to a team (the Los Angeles Dodgers) who had a better chance of making the playoffs in exchange for a few low level prospects, rather than lose Baldwin as a free agent after the season and get nothing in return for him.
The prospects were nothing too notable: Jeff Barry, Gary Majewski and Onan Masaoka. Majewski, actually, was drafted by the White Sox and sent to the Dodgers earlier in 2001, so they were just getting him back.
Barry had played in the big leagues for a little bit in the late 90s, mostly for the Rockies…
Here’s the kicker, though.
The White Sox did not MEAN to acquire Barry!!!!
No, the White Sox meant to acquire young Dodger minor league pitcher Jonathan Berry!!!
The White Sox even issues a press release saying it was Berry that they had received, while it was not.
White Sox general manager Kenny Williams noted at the time:
There was a misunderstanding on reports. We were looking at a report on the pitcher and we didn’t have one on the guy we got. We’ll honor the deal.
Luckily for the White Sox, while Barry never made the major leagues for the White Sox, Berry never made the majors, either.
The best player in the deal turned out, most likely, to be Majewski, who the White Sox traded to the (then) Montreal Expos in 2004 along with pitcher Jon Rauch in exchange for Carl Everett, who helped the White Sox win the 2005 World Series.
Amusingly enough, Majewski was involved in ANOTHER trade snafu of sorts when he was traded from the Washington Nationals (that’s who the Montreal Expos became) to the Cincinnati Reds in 2006. At the time, Majewski was a 26-year-old reliever having a strong season after following two strong years as a reliever. So the Reds thought they were getting the tough relief pitcher than their bullpen needed.
However, the Nationals did not disclose that Majewski had just been given a cortisone shot for a sore arm. Majewksi went on to pitch poorly for the Reds, and he’s been a pretty mediocre to bad pitcher ever since. He is currently in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system, presumably trying to regain arm strength.
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