Deadline Dealing – Indians Send Kennedy to St. Louis for Lefty Zoldak

June 16, 1948

Just hours before Tuesday night’s midnight trade deadline struck, the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns worked out a trade of left-handed starting pitchers.

The Indians acquired veteran Sam Zoldak in the deal in exchange for rookie Bill Kennedy and a “large amount of cash.” The Browns also will acquire a player to be named later that will be sent to St. Louis prior to the start of the 1949 season.

“It was a case of begging for him on our knees,” Indians President Bill Veeck said. “I think it’ll be worth it though. He should help a lot.”

Zoldak, 25, will help fill in the back of the Indians rotation that has been very questionable after Bob Lemon, Bob Feller and rookie Gene Bearden. Zoldak appeared in eleven games for the Browns prior to the trade, nine of which were starts. In 54 innings pitched, Zoldak compiled a 2-4 record with a 4.67 ERA. Not a fireballer by any means, Zoldak struck out only 13 batters compared to 19 walks.

Zoldak is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and attended Fordham University. He originally signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1941, but was traded to the Browns in 1944 for former Indian Frankie Hayes. Zoldak made his Major League debut for the Browns that summer and has been a mainstay in their rotation for the past two years.

Zoldak has been the definition of consistency, having nearly identical statistics for a very bad Browns team over the past two seasons. In 1946, Zoldak went 9-11 with a 3.43 ERA in 35 games and 21 starts. The next season, Zoldak nearly matched those marks by going 9-10 with a 3.47 ERA in 35 games and 19 starts. It is expected that Zoldak will float between the rotation and bullpen with Cleveland as well.

Kennedy, 27, will head to St. Louis as a player who never really lived up to his expectations in Cleveland. After an amazing minor league career in which he posted an outstanding 43-5 record, Kennedy was never really able to make the transition to the Big Leagues. In six games with the Tribe, Kennedy posted a 1-0 record with an 11.12 ERA. He struck out just over a batter an inning, but walked just as many as well.

Kennedy’s best moment as a member of the Indians came in his first Major League start in a 9-2 victory over the lowly Chicago White Sox. Kennedy allowed only one hit before tiring in the eighth inning and won his first and only game to date. Kennedy originally came to Cleveland from the Boston Red Sox in the 1947 Rule 5 Draft.

Zoldak, nicknamed Sad Sam, will join the Indians on Thursday and could make his first start next week against the Yankees.


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