Today’s Random Player From the Baseball Project That May or May Not Amount to Anything is Rick Wise. Wise came up in the Philadelphia Phillies organization and had become a pretty good starter. In 1971 he pitched 272.1 innings with 155 strikeouts, a 2.88 ERA and a 17-14 record. Remember, this was for a Phillies team that would go on to lose 95 games that year. On June 23 of that season he got the start against Cincinnati. That day he struck out only three Reds that day, but he only walked one and allowed zero hits. At the plate Wise homered twice, driving in three of the four runs. It was easily the best game of his young career. He was just 25 years old.
But Wise wanted a raise. This was before Peter Seitz’s ruling so getting a raise was not an option. The biggest issue was that no one was willing to go to Philly. Hell, the whole Curt Flood battle began because he was traded to Philadelphia. Fortunately for the Phillies the Cardinals had a similar situation with a young pitcher who was demanding more money. So on February 25, 1972, the two pitchers were traded for each other straight up. Wise pitched pretty well for St. Louis in 1972 (3.11 ERA, 110 ERA+, 2.92 FIP in 269 innings), but it is what the other pitcher did in Philadelphia that is remembered by everyone. More on that later.
After two seasons in St. Louis Wise and Bernie Carbo were sent to Boston for Reggie Smith and Ken Tatum. Wise was a disappointment in Boston – though he is the answer to the trivia question “Who was the winning pitcher in the famous Game 6 of the 1975 World Series?” – and right before the start of the 1978 season Wise was traded again. This time he, Bo Diaz, Ted Cox, and Mike Paxton were sent to the Indians for Fred Kendall and a 23-year old pitcher. Again, we’ll discuss this later. After two so-so years with the Tribe he signed with the San Diego Padres.
Overall Rick Wise posted a 3.69 ERA, a 188-181 record, 1,647 strikeouts in 3,127.1 innings. But what he will be remembered for is else was involved in his trades.
Reggie Smith had a very good career (marginally Hall worthy – a 64.68 Hall of Fame Rating, though below average for a right fielder is still a very good score), but the two pitchers are the bigger story.
In 1972 Steve Carlton went 27-10 with a 1.97 ERA for the Phillies as they lost 97 times. Carlton won the Cy Young Award and would go on to win three more with the Phillies as they moved towards respectability and eventually success, winning five division titles and their first World Series championship over the next decade. In 1996 Carlton was inducted into Cooperstown.
In 1978 Dennis Eckersley won 20 games for Boston and 17 more in 1979. By the mid 80’s he was a complete mess and after the 1986 season he checked into rehab. By 1987 he was Oakland’s closer and from 1988 through 1992 he saved 220 games and won the 1992 Cy Young Award (questionable choice) and Most Valuable Player (a complete joke and the worst selection of the 1990’s). Eckersley got his induction ceremony in 2004.
Yes, twice in Rick Wise’s career he was traded for a future Hall of Fame pitcher. Such is the way with some players.