Today in Tribe History: April 19, 1969
Bob Toth | On 19, Apr 2016
The Indians and Red Sox agree on a six-player swap of several former All-Stars, as Cleveland sends Sonny Siebert, Joe Azcue, and Vicente Romo to Boston for Dick Ellsworth, Ken Harrelson, and Juan Pizarro.
The move was not necessarily well received in the Cleveland market, as Hal Lebovitz of The Plain Dealer immediately wrote for the April 20, 1969, edition of the paper that in his opinion, “I think the deal with the Red Sox is one of the worst Cleveland ever made. In my opinion the Indians’ management pushed the panic button too quickly and this deal will knock the bottom out. The Red Sox had Harrelson last year . Where did they finish? Behind the Indians. Reason: The Indians had Azcue, Romo and Siebert. The Indians gave up one of the best hitting and throwing catchers in baseball in Azcue. They also gave up too much of their most precious commodity – pitching.”
Siebert was 27 years old when he broke in with the Indians in 1964, but made an All-Star team and threw a no-hitter in 1966 while earning 16 wins for the second straight season. He would be a solid pitcher for the Red Sox for four seasons, making another All-Star squad, before being dealt to the Texas Rangers. He also spent time with the St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, and Oakland Athletics.
Azcue had spent seven years in Cleveland after time in Cincinnati and Kansas City. An All-Star catcher in 1968, he played sparingly with the Sox before being dealt to the California Angels. He would also log eleven games with the Milwaukee Brewers to end his MLB career in 1972.
Romo was effective for the Tribe in 1968 and three games of the 1969 season before the trade. He remained with the Red Sox for two years before a pair of seasons with the Chicago White Sox and San Diego Padres. After returning to play in Mexico for seven seasons, he returned to the Majors in 1982 for 15 games with the Dodgers.
The left-hander Ellsworth was a member of the Indians for a year and a half before he was purchased by the Brewers. He was a former 22-game winner for the Chicago Cubs in 1963 and an All-Star for the club in 1964 but never had that form with the Tribe.
“Hawk” Harrelson, an All-Star for the Sox in ’68 while leading the league in RBI, hit 27 homers and drove in 84 RBI in his first season in Cleveland. He was limited to just 17 games in 1970 after breaking his leg in spring training and 52 the next year before retiring to pursue a professional golf career. He has since become a well-known voice on White Sox broadcasts.
Cleveland became the fifth city in the big league career for the lefty Pizarro, a two-time All-Star for the White Sox in 1963 and 1964. He stayed with the Indians for 48 appearances but was purchased by Oakland before season’s end. He spent parts of the next four years back in Chicago with the Cubs before 15 games with Houston in 1973 and seven games back in Pittsburgh in 1974.
The Red Sox finished the year 87-75 and in third place in the AL East. The Indians finished the season 62-99 and in last place.