Former Cubs pitcher Dave Hillman has died

Dave Hillman, in many ways, personified the Cubs of the 1950s. Signed in 1950, he had several good years in the Cubs system but somehow wasn’t called to the big club until 1955, when he was 27. Then he posted reasonable numbers in 1958 and 1959, which were the team’s two best years of that decade, and Ernie Banks’ two MVP seasons.

Former Cubs pitcher Dave Hillman has died

Dave Hillman, in some ways, personified the Cubs of the Fifties.

Signed in 1950, he had a number of good years within the Cubs system however by some means wasn’t referred to as to the massive membership till 1955, when he was 27. Then he posted cheap numbers in 1958 and 1959, which have been the workforce’s two finest years of that decade, and Ernie Banks’ two MVP seasons.

All that obtained him was traded, to the Pink Sox within the 1959-60 offseason, and there’s a narrative behind that. I’ll get to that shortly.

Hillman passed away Sunday in Kingsport, Tennessee, aged 95. Per his SABR biography, he’d been residing there since his baseball profession resulted in 1962 as a member of the expansin New York Mets.

Hillman was traded, together with Jim Marshall (sure, the previous Cubs supervisor, and he’s nonetheless residing too, aged 91), to the Pink Sox November 21, 1959 for Dick Gernert. Gernert was a typical Cubs acquisition of the time — a man previous 30, who had been good three or 4 years earlier, however was nearly carried out. Gernert performed in solely 52 video games for the Cubs in 1960 earlier than being offered to the Tigers, so the commerce chain ends there.

Right here’s the rationale this deal was noteworthy. In that period greater than 60 years in the past, the Nationwide and American Leagues have been nonetheless considerably separate entities. And for many years, the leagues required waivers to make trades between them. The explanation for this was to forestall a foul workforce in a single league from dumping any good gamers it needed to contenders within the different league.

It’s explained in detail here:

In December 1958 main league house owners agreed to the primary interleague buying and selling interval. Previous to this, groups may commerce with golf equipment within the different league provided that the gamers concerned first cleared waivers in their very own league, a non-starter for dealing any front-line expertise. For all sensible functions, previous to 1959 a giant league GM solely had solely seven groups he may commerce with.

One of many instigators of the brand new rule was Frank “Dealer” Lane, GM of the Cleveland Indians and well-known for swapping gamers, usually only for the joys of the deal. The AL permitted the brand new rule 7-1, the NL by a narrower 5-3 vote.

In a commerce right this moment, which league a participant is transferring to or from barely registers, however on the time it was revolutionary sufficient that the brand new buying and selling window would solely be open for a really quick interval, November 21 to December 15.

And so it was that on November 21, 1959, the Cubs and Pink Sox made the very first offseason interleague commerce with out waivers, as described above.

Because it seems, the day I report back to you on the demise of Dave Hillman can be the 63rd anniversary of that deal. So we’ve obtained a little bit of historical past right here in addition to the passing of a former Cubs participant. I do know there are just a few BCB readers who watched the Cubs play within the Fifties; maybe you have got reminiscences of Dave Hillman’s 129 video games pitched as a Chicago Cub. General he posted a 3.78 ERA and 1.306 WHIP and 5.0 bWAR as a Cub.

Honest condolences to Hillman’s household and mates.

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