10 bizarre trades in sports history

1916: Babe Ruth begins a 29 2/3 scoreless World Series innings streak with 13 shutout innings in a 14-inning complete-game win over the Brooklyn Robins. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-npcc-00316)

History was made in the National Hockey League last week just before the league’s trade deadline, when a unique trade took place.

The Arizona Coyotes and Calgary Flames consummated a swap that sent Nick Ritchie and Troy Stecher to the Flames for Brett Ritchie and Connor Mackey.

Yes, Nick and Brett Ritchie are brothers, so it was the first time in league history two brothers were traded for one another.

Hey, maybe they can just switch places to live in those respective cities, right?

In light of that, it got us to thinking. What have been the most unique trades in sports history?

This isn’t talking about lopsided trades where one team acquired a player or coach who went on to become Hall of Famers or contribute to a championship, while the other team got players who did nothing.

Rather, we’re talking about odd terms, items or non-players that one team gave up to acquire a player. Here are 10 of our favorite examples.

10. Kerry Ligtenberg to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for balls and bats

In the mid-90s, Ligtenberg was pitching for an independent team -- the Minnesota Loons. Greg Olson, a former catcher for the Atlanta Braves who was managing the Loons, encouraged the front of the office of the Braves to give Ligtenberg a look.

After scouting him out, the Braves agreed to acquire Ligtenberg for what turned out to be a generous price: 12 baseballs and 24 bats.

“I didn’t need money,” Olson told the Baltimore Sun. “In reality, as an independent league manager, the thing you need is equipment.”

In 1998, Ligtenberg worked his way up to being the closer for Atlanta, saving 30 of 34 opportunities.

9. Harry Chiti, John McDonald for themselves

This is actually two separate trades that fall under the same weird circumstance.

In 1962, Chiti was traded from the Cleveland Indians to the New York Mets at the beginning of the year for cash and a player to be named later. Come June, the Mets didn’t want Chiti anymore because he wasn’t hitting well. Given that, the Mets decided Chiti himself would be the player to be named later in the deal, sending him back to the Indians in what essentially turned out to be a deal for cash in exchange for a few months of service.

In 2005, John McDonald was traded from the Toronto Blue Jays to the Detroit Tigers for a player to be named later. As was the case with Chiti, McDonald a few months later turned out to be that player. The Tigers sent him and a little extra money for their trouble back to the Blue Jays.

8. Trade of managers

Frustrated with your team’s season? How about trading the manager or coach?

Wait, what?

Yep, that’s what the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians did in 1960, when managers Jimmy Dykes of the Tigers and Joe Gordon of the Indians were traded for one another.

The change of leadership didn’t help, as both teams missed the playoffs and showed little improvement.

7. Announcer Ernie Harwell acquired for a player

In 1948, the Brooklyn Dodgers were in need of a play-by-play announcer for the short term, and called the Atlanta Crackers to see if they could use rising announcer Ernie Harwell. The Crackers essentially said sure, but at a price.

Atlanta demanded a player in return, and the Dodgers obliged, sending catcher Cliff Dapper back to Atlanta.

Dapper toiled in the minor leagues after the trade, while Harwell went on to a Hall of Fame career as a broadcaster for the Detroit Tigers.

6. NBA player Fred Roberts for two preseason games

A member of the Utah Jazz in 1986, the 6-foot-10 Roberts was sought after by the Boston Celtics, at the time the NBA’s gold standard, who were in need of some frontcourt depth. Boston eventually acquired Roberts in exchange for the right to play two preseason games against the Celtics the next season, which probably helped ticket sales in Utah.

5. Kris Draper for $1

In 1993, you could say the Detroit Red Wings went shopping at the dollar store for what turned out to be an important player. The Red Wings acquired Kris Draper from the Winnipeg Jets for $1.

Draper went on to play more than a 1,000 games with the Red Wings and was a key piece on teams that won Stanley Cups won in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008.

Following Detroit’s 1997 Stanley Cup win that broke a 42-year championship drought, Draper, at a celebration in front of a full arena of fans, paid the dollar back to Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, who smiled and put the dollar in his pocket as fans laughed and applauded.

4. Dave Winfield for dinner

During the 1994 players strike in baseball, eventual Hall of Famer Dave Winfield was a 40-year-old player with the Minnesota Twins. The team was shopping Winfield and found a taker in the Cleveland Indians, but the teams were stuck after the 1994 season was canceled. To complete the trade, executives from the Twins took executives from the Indians out to dinner.

3. Cy Young for a suit

The winningest pitcher in baseball history who has the current preeminent pitching awards named after him, Young was acquired from Canton in 1890 by the Cleveland Spiders, who sent Canton some cash and a fine suit in exchange.

2. Mike Cisco for nothing

In 2013, the Philadelphia Phillies sent minor-league pitcher Mike Cisco to the Los Angeles Angels for an interesting return: Nothing. The Angels needed some pitching depth, and the Phillies simply sent Cisco to the Angels as a goodwill gesture. The official return in the transaction wasn’t listed as $1 or anything at all. Cisco never reached the big leagues.

1. Babe Ruth for a Broadway musical?

This is one trade that has created debate, but it’s impossible to argue it’s historical significance.

One of the most iconic athletes ever, Ruth performed well for the Boston Red Sox as a pitcher and hitter, but was traded to the New York Yankees in 1919 in arguably the most famous trade in sports history.

So, what did Red Sox owner Harry Frazee covet in return for such a prominent American personality?

A Broadway musical, allegedly.

Frazee reportedly needed money to help fund the production of “No, No, Nanette,” and so he sent Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000.

But other reports have claimed that there were other factors involved, and that it’s a myth Ruth was traded solely for funds so Frazee could produce “No, No, Nanette.”

A 2016 article in the New York Post said Ruth was traded for other reasons, such as he wasn’t a team player, he didn’t want to be a pitcher anymore and wanted to focus on hitting home runs — the Red Sox still wanted him to pitch — and that Boston didn’t want to meet Ruth’s increasing financial demands.

Frazee did end up producing “No, No, Nanette,” years after the trade.

Regardless, even if the trade was solely for cash, it was strange compensation and the biggest bargain ever for a player who became a cultural icon with the Yankees.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.