It’s not like teams saw the most lopsided trades in sports history coming. Any trade begins with an assessment of value. Party One has something Party Two wants, Party Two has something Party One wants. They swap.
Simple enough? Right. Well, not so much when, say, what one the car one party is trading turns out to be a lemon. And there have been plenty of “lemon” trades in the history of sports. There have also been plenty of the opposite…like when you think you’re buying a Kia Soul and end up with a Rolls Royce, or some such.
Let’s take a look at the 8 most one-sided trades in sports history.
Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000
There’s no need to recap the glory of Babe Ruth’s major league career. The Bambino was one of the best. The trade that sent him to the Yankees, however, stands as the worst in the history of professional sports.
Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, keen to finance his musical “No, No, Nanette” sold the Babe to the Yankees in 1920 for $100,000 cash and a $300,000. At least the musical was popular?
John Elway to the Broncos
Coming out of Stanford, John Elway made it clear he had no intention of playing for the Baltimore Colts. Nevertheless, the team drafted him. But with Elway steadfast, the Colts dealt him to Denver for a first-round pick, quarterback Mark Hermann, and offensive tackle Chris Hinton.
Dr. J to 76ers for $3 million
The so-called “Babe Ruth of basketball” trade. Roy Boe, owner of the Nets, sold Julius Erving to the 76ers for $3 million. Erving led the team to four NBA Finals and the 1983 championship. Beyond that, Dr. J became a high-flying legend…and the money didn’t even pull the Nets out of their financial tailspin.
Robert Parish to the Celtics for a first-round pick
The Chief joined the Celtics in a blockbuster 1980 trade. The Golden State Warriors traded Parish and the No. 3 pick in the 1980 draft. The Cs took Kevin McHale with their pick, solidifying two members of the team’s Big Three. The Warriors got the No. 1 pick in the draft. They took Joe Barry Carroll who, while not a bust, didn’t exactly lead the team to championships.
Kobe Bryant to the Lakers
Kobe Bryant was the greatest Charlotte Hornet of all-time. No doubt. What’s that you say? Kobe Bryant didn’t play for the Charlotte Hornets? Oh, that’s right. The Hornets drafted Bryant and traded him to the Lakers for Vlade Divac. Of course, it’s not entirely fair to blame the Hornets: Bryant had told the team he wouldn’t play, ala Eli Manning and John Elway.
Pedro Martinez to the Expos
Pedro Martinez went 10-5 in his rookie season for the Montreal Expos. The ‘Spos looked past his obvious upside and dealt him to the Dodgers for Delino Deshields. Eight-time All-Star, three-time Cy Young winner, Martinez went on to become one of the all-time greats. Deshields…didn’t.
Frank Robinson to the Orioles
Regarded as one of the worst trades in the history of baseball, the Reds unloaded former MVP Frank Robinson to the Orioles. In return, they got Jack Baldschun, Dick Simpson, and Milt Pappas. Robinson won the Triple Crown the next year the Orioles won the World Series. None of the three players the Orioles sent the Reds stayed with team for more than two seasons.
Cy Young for a $300 suit
Before Cy Young became the winningest pitcher in MLB history, he was playing semi-pro ball for a team in Ohio. Pitching in the Tri-State League, Young was sold to the Cleveland Spiders for a $300 suit. He played nine seasons for the Spiders and, well, he retired 511 wins later.