Remembering The 1980 Trade Deadline

1980 has a lot in common with 2010. An American car company lived on, thanks to a government bailout. The price of gold shot up. And the Philadelphia Phillies headed for October glory.

Here's how baseball teams dealt with the trade deadline during this scenario's first go-around.

The contenders got started late in 1980, with few deals that impacted the pennant races until August. The Pittsburgh Pirates struck first on August 5, acquiring Kurt Bevacqua and Mark Lee from the San Diego Padres for Luis Salazar and Rick Lancellotti. Lee and Lancellotti did little, but this is an example of a team trading an infielder who was about to become useful (Salazar) for one who would soon cease being useful (Bevacqua). While Bevacqua hit just .163/.280/.186, Salazar immediately starred for the Padres, hitting .337/.362/.472 in 1980 after the deal.

Montreal did nicely on August 11, trading for reliever John D'Acquisto and sending the first baseman Randy Bass to those same Padres. D'Acquisto posted a 2.18 ERA in 20.2 innings for Montreal, while Bass never hit in the major leagues.

Of course neither trade helped the Expos and Pirates catch the Phillies, who went on to win the World Series. Philadelphia's main acquisitions were the free agents Tim McCarver and Sparky Lyle. Neither one signed prior to September 1, so neither could play in the postseason, but both contributed. Lyle, in particular, posted a 1.93 ERA in his month with the Phillies.

Meanwhile, the Yankees also brought in an old hand to help with their stretch run, but it happened via trade. The Yankees dispatched Ken Clay and Marvin Thompson to the Rangers for Gaylord Perry, then 41 years old, but en route to another 200-plus inning season. (Fun note: he also had six 300-inning seasons!)

For Perry, fours were wild with the Yankees- a 4-4 record, 4.44 ERA. That New York team won 103 games – only five Yankee teams ever won more – but after falling in the ALCS, manager Dick Howser was unceremoniously dismissed.

One final trade worth remembering: the Expos acquired Willie Montanez (who had been traded for Perry that February) from the Padres, giving up a minor league outfielder named Tony Phillips in the process. Hard as it is to believe, Phillips seemed unlikely to realize his potential for years after. He was soon shipped to Oakland, where he managed a paltry .251/.338/.350 line in eight seasons, beginning in 1982. But from 1990 to 1999, he was a different player, hitting .273/.392/.409 beginning with his age-31 season.

In other words: it is hard to blame the Expos for not seeing that one a decade ahead.

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7 Comments on "Remembering The 1980 Trade Deadline"

5 years 15 days ago

well, Bevacqua came back and was at least a little helpful, since he was the reason they didnt get swept in the ’84 series…

Patrick Newman
5 years 14 days ago

Inevitable comment: Randy Bass went on to have a huge career in Japan and is still beloved by Hanshin Tigers fans.

Nicholas Birns
5 years 14 days ago

The Sparky Lyle transaction was not a free-agent signing but a trade (for Kevin Saucier).

5 years 14 days ago

On the other hand, Willie Wilson, George Brett, Frank White, and Dennis Leonard aren’t beating the Yankees in the ALCS.

(Bryan Bullington, on the other hand, is a different story!)

5 years 14 days ago

Bevacqua – that guy couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Classic Lasorda rant.

5 years 14 days ago

In reference to Tony Phillips….cocaine’s a helluva drug.

5 years 14 days ago

Marty Bystrom!!

and poor Willie Wilson. 13 World Series’ K’s including the final out.