Tribe Was Part of Bizarre Manager Swap

Joe Gordon was known as many things. The second baseman, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 2009, was a mainstay for the pre-World War II Yankees as they won five pennants and four World Series in six years. And Gordon was a key addition to the Indians as they won the 1948 World Series.

But 12 years later, Gordon would become a key subtraction from the Tribe in what remains one of the strangest deals in Major League history.

During the 1959 World Series, headlines on sports pages throughout Northern Ohio talked about the potential new addition to the Indians’ bench. Leo Durocher, who had managed the New York Giants to a World Series sweep of the Tribe in 1954, was the hot candidate for the Indians job as Gordon was viewed as a dead man walking. Indians general manager Frank Lane was openly critical of Gordon.

Durocher, who was also named as a possible Indians manager in 1956, was offered a three-year contract, but turned it down in 1959, and the Indians retained Gordon. “He deserved another shot anyway,” Durocher said.

Before the 1960 season, Lane dropped a bombshell that took a generation to recover from, dealing slugger and fan favorite Rocky Colavito, the reigning American League home run champion, to the Tigers for reigning batting champion Harvey Kuenn. But Lane, who had an almost pathological need to make trades, wasn’t finished.

On Aug. 3, the Indians and Tigers made another swap – of managers. Gordon left Cleveland for Detroit, and was replaced as Indians manager by erstwhile Tigers skipper Jimmy Dykes. “Lane is famous for his trades, but this one probably tops them all,” the Associated Press reported.

Lane described Gordon’s departure as mutual. “Joe felt it might be best for all concerned,” Lane said. Gordon, for his part, seemed thrilled to be gone. “It’s always nice to know when something happens in one place, you’re wanted in another.”

Gordon finished the season as Tigers manager. The following year, he was hired by Charlie Finley as the manager of the Kansas City Athletics. Finley, described once as a self-made man who worships his creator, fired Gordon midway through the season, with an assist from his new general manager – Frank Lane. Gordon’s last stint as a major league manager came in 1969, managing another team in Kansas City, the expansion Royals in their first year. Dykes remained Tribe manager through 1961. It was the sixth major league team he managed – the most in the 20th century.

Related Posts

Barker’s Perfect Game in 1981 Remains Last No-No for Tribe

Today we remember Len Barker’s perfect game against the Toronto Blue Jays in 1981, the last hitless game tossed by an Indians pitcher. This story was originally…

Caldwell Gave an Electrifying Performance on the Mound for the Tribe in 1919

On the anniversary of a bizarre event in baseball history, Did The Tribe Win Last Night shares a story originally posted on August 24, 2016, by guest…

Carl Mays: My Attitude Toward the Unfortunate Chapman Matter

We continue our look back on the death of Ray Chapman on the 100th anniversary of the tragedy. This supplemental interview appeared in the November 1920 issue…

League, City Plunged into Mourning after Chapman’s Death

This story was originally published on December 26, 2014, as part of a series of stories by Did The Tribe Win Last Night’s Vince Guerrieri on the…

Tragedy Struck Tribe with Chapman Beaning

This weekend marked the anniversary of a tragic event thankfully never replicated on a Major League field. This story of the death of Ray Chapman was originally…

Don’t Call It A Comeback!

Today’s trip down memory lane takes us back to a story published on August 5, 2011, in the infancy stages of the Did The Tribe Win Last…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.