January 8, 2012 by Matt Musico
January 10th, 1928: The Giants trade Rogers Hornsby to the Boston Braves for Shanty Hogan and Jimmy Welsh. It’s the Rajah’s third team in three years.
Why exactly is this trade monumental? Mostly because I find it hard to believe that any team would want to trade one of the best second basemen in the history of the game, especially when he is still in the prime of his career. In 1927 for the Giants, Hornsby hit .361, slugged 25 home runs, and had 125 RBI.
Apparently, that wasn’t a good enough stat line and New York traded Hornsby within the National League to the Boston Braves. He then proceeded to hit at a .387 clip, hit 21 homers, and 94 RBI. In his 23 year MLB career, Rogers Hornsby played for five different teams. I find it odd that he switched teams that many times during his professional career. In today’s game, we see players switch teams every year due to free agency, but it didn’t always used to be like that.
Before the 1970s, the reserve clause allowed an organization to hold onto a player for as long as they wish. Due to this, it was common for a player to spend his entire career with only one or two teams. That’s why I think it’s so weird that a career .358 hitter with 301 home runs, 1,584 RBI, and almost 3,000 hits would move around to so many teams during a time when players didn’t move around after they were established.
This fact alone makes me wonder what type of player Hornsby was in the clubhouse. I haven’t read anything bad about his character, but with him moving around to so many teams, there must have been some sort of personality conflict, either with Hornsby and his fellow players, his coaching staff, or the front office; especially with Boston and New York since he only spent one year with each organization.
On the other hand, the star second baseman could have have been too expensive for either the Giants or Braves to hold onto because he was at the peak of his game. There are obviously a number of things that caused Rogers Hornsby to play for five teams during a time in which it was unprecedented. He has always been a personal favorite of mine, and one of a few Major Leaguers that I wish I had the chance to watch in person.