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I Could Write A Book (Or Read One)

Barry DuchanSunday, December 16, 2007
By Barry Duchan


My thanks to those who have suggested I write a book based on my remembrances of the Mets' early years and the many would-be prospects who played for the Mets. The problem with writing a book without judicious research, that is, one primarily based on recollection, is that unless the author is already well-known, there probably won't be much of a market for it. Another problem is that I know absolutely nothing about the "business" of publishing a book (other than what I've seen in movies such as Hoax, which I suppose isn't the best example).

Really, the book I'd love to be able to write is one for which I am clearly unqualified. It would be called something like "Trying To Build The Mets - The Inside Story of Every Mets' Trade Between 1961 and xxx". Of course, I could list all the deals, and comment on them, but what's really needed is a look at the genesis of each deal as well as others that may have been discussed, but were never consummated. Only an "insider" could attempt to do that.

For example, I could report that on December 6, 1966, the Mets obtained Don Bosch and Don Cardwell from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Dennis Ribant and Gary Kolb and comment (as I already have) that even though Cardwell made this deal a positive one for the Mets, the trade was primarily about Bosch, and he, of course, was a huge disappointment. What I DON'T know, but would love to find out is:

  1. Which team initiated the discussion?
  2. Did the Mets offer Ribant to any other team, and if so, what were they offered in return?
  3. Did the Mets insist on Cardwell as an integral part of the trade?
  4. Had the Mets targeted any other centerfielder before deciding on Bosch?

Now, multiply those questions times every significant deal the Mets made from Bob Miller for Harkness and Burright through Nolan Ryan +++ for Jim Fregosi, and you'd have the book I'd truly be proud to write. But unfortunately, I don't have the knowledge to do it, and it's a good bet no one else does, either.

So, I'd settle for something like "Blockbuster - The Inside Story Behind The Biggest Baseball Trades Of The Last Fifty Years" and be content to read about the Frank Robinson trade, Kuenn for Colavito, endless trades between the Yankees and Kansas City A's, etc. expecting that Ryan-Fregosi, Piazza from the Marlins to the Mets, and Keith Hernandez for Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey would have a place in the book.

Meanwhile, if anybody really knows or can cite a book that relates the background story of any of the above-mentioned trades, please pass that information along. I need some good summer reading.

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published on May 24, 2007. - M.S.

Note: More of Barry Duchan's writings can be found on his own Metscentric blog.

About Barry Duchan: I've been following the Mets since 1962. Have to admit I was a Yankee fan as a kid, but I found it to be so much more interesting to see how a young team could build itself up rather than following a team where the season didn't really begin until October. I remember them all - Casey, Marv, ChooChoo, Don Bosch, The Stork, etc. As the years went on, I became more and more of a Mets fan, and a Yankee hater once Steinbrenner and Billy Martin entered the picture.   Read More -->

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Comments (5)

According to the New York Times article on the trade:

1. Bing Devine said, "Bosch was the key to the trade. Cardwell is an established major league pitcher but he will have to make his way into the starting rotation."

2. "Bosch . . . was subject to discussions between Pittsburgh and New York late last season."

3. Devine again: "Bosch is the key man in the trade."

4. "Bosch was defensively as good as Willie Mays, Bill Virdon, or Curt Flood."

5. "Devine said he hoped that Cardwell could take Ribant's place in the rotation."

By the comments, it's clear that Bosch was target by the Mets and had been for several months. It also looks like the Mets initiated the discussion for Bosch and most likely the Pirates first mentioned Ribant. Cardwell looks like he was added to the trade because the Mets were trading a starter and needed a warm body.

Just for the heck of it, I looked up the NY Times article the day after the Nolan Ryan trade. Not many details, but one long forgotten fact: the year before, Ryan had lost 10 of his last 12 decisions.

Barry,

As one of the people who has suggested that you write a book, I stand by my recommendation. Please go to the McFarland website (mcfarlandbaseball.com). McFarland publishes more books about baseball than any other publisher in the world. It is structured more like an academic press than a traditional commercial press, which means that it will publish a book because the book needs to be written and not just because it is likely to make a lot of money. Some McFarland baseball books, however, like my own, do quite well because there is an audience out there. There are two new McFarland books about the Mets: William Ryczek's The Amazin' Mets, 1962-69 and Jacob Kanarek's From First to Worst: The New York Mets in the 1970s. I haven't read them yet but you might want to check them out to get a sense of the kind of Mets book that can be published. You write well and I don't know of anyone else out there who seems to know as much about the technical and historical details of the era you know so well. A book by you would be a valuable resource for the developing field of Mets Studies. I'm not joking about this. This kind of work and knowledge deserves exposure.

RealityChuck, Thanks for digging into the New York Times archive and coming up with that background for the trade. The acquisition of Bosch was always a mystery to me because from the day he arrived in spring training until he was finally dealt away, he was so totally overmatched at the plate, mediocre in the field, and looked nothing like a major league ballplayer. Guys like Johnny Lewis and Billy Cowan, on the other hand, looked to have all the raw tools and even had some impressive numbers in the minor leagues that gave hope that they would overcome their propensity to strike out and become stars. None of them worked out, but Cardwell salvaged the Bosch trade.

Bosch said from the first that Cardwell would be the one who made the trade look good. Not really a sign of confidence in his own ability.

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