Today in Tribe History: June 15, 1958
Bob Toth | On 15, Jun 2020
Just hours ahead of the deadline, the Cleveland Indians make their second trade with the Kansas City Athletics in four days as Indians general manager Frank Lane sends former top prospect outfielder Roger Maris, infielder Preston Ward, and pitcher Dick Tomanek to the Kansas City Athletics for utility guy Woodie Held and infielder Vic Power.
The move was one of many that would become hated over Lane’s reign of terror as Cleveland’s frequent trader. Maris was once deemed a “can’t miss” type of prospect who had visited the playoffs in each of his first four minor league seasons before breaking into the Majors for the first time in 1957. His rookie season started promising, but broken ribs and later an injured right instep slowed his progress on the field and, with both manager Kerby Farrell and GM Hank Greenberg relieved of their duties following the season, Lane shipped Maris to Kansas City during the 1958 season.
“Naturally, we wouldn’t have made this trade if we didn’t think it would help up,” Lane was quoted in The Plain Dealer the next day. “We made it to build for the future. Both Power and Held are only 26.”
Lane acknowledged that he had also considered a trade involving Maris to the New York Yankees in a one-for-one swap with Bobby Richardson, someone he had pursued for the last six months.
“But I couldn’t make the deal,” shared Lane. “Richardson is not that much better than [Billy] Moran. In fact, he may not be any better at all.
“Before I let the Athletics have him, I made sure they wouldn’t turn around and trade him to the Yankees. They assured me they would keep him themselves.”
Richardson, playing in his fourth season with the Yankees and an All-Star in 1957, would spend his entire 12-year career in pinstripes, making seven trips to the Midsummer Classic while winning five Gold Gloves at second base. He would memorably be named the 1960 World Series MVP.
Maris, meanwhile, would stay just a year and a half in Kansas City, making his first of four consecutive American League All-Star teams while with the A’s. He was dealt following the 1959 season in a seven-player swap to the Yankees, and he would reach stardom in the Big Apple. There, he won back-to-back MVP awards in 1960 and 1961 and, more notably, established the long-standing (and still, to some) record for most home runs in a season with 61.
Tomanek, an Avon Lake product, pitched with the A’s in 1958 and 1959 and in their farm system in 1960. Ward’s career would conclude with 58 games with the A’s in 1959. Power, a two-time All-Star in KC, would reach that status again with Cleveland in 1959 and 1960 before spending time with Minnesota, the Los Angeles/California Angels, and Philadelphia. Held would remain in Cleveland through the 1964 season, playing six different positions for the club before spending time with the Washington Senators, Baltimore Orioles, California Angels, and Chicago White Sox.