Cleveland general manager Frank Lane pulls off yet another curious trade as he sends manager Joe Gordon to the Detroit Tigers for their skipper, Jimmy Dykes.
“Trader” Lane was known for his penchant for keeping clubhouses in a state of flux, but his move to send Gordon to the team’s league rival seemed strange at best. Gordon had taken over the Indians for the final 86 games of the 1958 season at the age of 43, leading the team to a 46-40 record and a fourth place spot in the American League, seven games behind the New York Yankees. They were even better the following season, finishing 89-65 and in second place in the league, five games in back of the World Series champion Chicago White Sox and ten games in front of the third place Yankees.
“It was just one of those things. A manager can’t catch for them, can’t hit for them,” shared Lane in an Associated Press report. “Sometimes a change in leadership has a salutary effect, sometimes it doesn’t.”
The Indians were off to a 49-46 start in 1960 and were in fourth place at the time of the trade. Gordon was replaced by Jo-Jo White in Cleveland until Dykes could arrive and White won his lone game managing in his coaching career.
“I’ve always been very much appreciative of the Cleveland club hiring me in the first place,” shared Gordon in the same AP story. “It’s been very pleasant except for the fact we haven’t won any ball games.”
Gordon would go 26-31 for the Tigers, who would finish 71-83 and in sixth place in the league, 26 games behind the Yankees. He was fired at the end of the year.
Dykes, in his 20th season managing and 63 years old, had last managed a club for a full season in the inaugural campaign of the Baltimore Orioles in 1954 after the team moved from St. Louis. He spent a handful of games as the manager of the Cincinnati Redlegs in 1958 and ended the 1959 season as the Tigers manager. Just 96 games into the 1960 season and after a 44-52 record, he was on the move to Cleveland. His sub-.500 effort in Detroit came with him, as the Indians went 26-32 to wrap up the season and finished 76-78, 21 games out of first. He would manage the Indians in 160 games in 1961 and the team finished fifth in the AL with a 78-83 record.
Dykes was not surprised at his dismissal in the Motor City, sharing with the AP, “Any idiot could figure that out. I figured that much. The way things were going, I knew I wouldn’t get back here next year, although nobody had said a word about it to me.”