Frazee's duplicity, however, was not unprecedented. In 1916, his predecessor, Joe Lannin, peddled an even bigger star at the time, Tris Speaker, to the Indians for 50 grand and the decent pitcher Sam Jones. As in the Ruth case a personality clash, contract demands, and business pressures provoked the deal. Months later ''Smokey'' Joe Wood was also sold to Cleveland.
It's interesting to consider that ownership's motivation for all those deals roughly a century ago is pretty much the same as the motivation of the owners today. Times have changed. The rules are different. So are the circumstances. But then as now the owners had varied interests complicating the scenario. Lannin was in real estate. Frazee was in show business. John Henry is a hedge fund guy also deeply into soccer. Each in his way is moved to cut losses, curb expenses, slash salary, tighten the budget; normal behavior for all corporate heavy-hitters.
The rascal Frazee, of course, had no intention of rebuilding whereas Henry pledges he will. We'll see how that works out. In the meantime, it's interesting to note that history is to some degree repeating itself, although doubtless that mere suggestion and with it the odious comparison to the likes of Frazee will make John Henry blush.
Embellishing the point is the fact that through the rest of their rollicking history -- save for the impoverished ownership of Bob Quinn (1923-1933) -- the Red Sox have always been very heavy-handed ''buyers'' and almost never, "sellers."
It's been a policy stunningly initiated in the '30s when Tom Yawkey, to whom money was "no object," eagerly preyed upon Depression-ravaged franchises -- mainly in Philadelphia and Washington -- to snare expensive mega-stars Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Joe Cronin, Wes and Rick Ferrell, Roger Cramer, Rube Walberg, Pinky Higgins, Bobo Newsom, Ben Chapman and Heinie Manush for large amounts of cash plus the usual cast-offs.
After WW II, Yawkey and Joe Cronin raised the tactic to new heights with the near moribund Browns as their pigeon. In two separate deals in an astounding three-day binge the week before Thanksgiving of 1947, they sent eight spare parts -- not a one of them either a regular or a promising prospect -- to the poor Browns for all-stars Vern Stephens, Ellis Kinder, and Jack Kramer plus Battling Billy Hitchcock. Just how much cash also went to St. Louis was never clarified. Reputedly it was more than $300,000, but it may have been more like $600,000; a staggering sum back then.
Old Tom didn't like to boast. Moreover, it was bad for business; only further agitating his lodge-brothers many of whom no doubt thought he was nuts. They say times have changed. But may I suggest, not that much!
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