How Jimmy Wynn Got to LA in Dec. 1973

Last night I subbed for Jimmy Wynn on the November 2018 Larry Dierker Chapter SABR meeting panel that assembled to discuss the Colt .45s that included Bob Aspromonte, who scored the first run in franchise history on April 10, 1962 ~ among several other firsts; Larry Dierker, who struck out Willie Mays on his 18th birthday pitching debut of September 22, 1964; and Tal Smith, the man who directed the completion of the Astrodome in 1965 ~ and who then spent many years in service to the Houston franchise as a top-level executive who rose to general manager and president of the club; plus Jimmy Wynn, who could not make it this time for reasons of health. Enter yours truly ~ mostly to keep the empty chair company and less forlorn looking.

As Jimmy Wynn’s co-author on his biography, “The Toy Cannon,” I was asked what I thought Jimmy’s feelings were about his trade to the Dodgers  in exchange for pitcher Claude Osteen and a minor leaguer. prior to the 1974 season. I said that Jimmy felt fine about it ~ that the positive reception he received from the Dodgers, combined with his desire to get away from the time he spent under manager Harry Walker in Houston helped a lot. Since Walker already had been gone for a season and some part of another by this time, Jimmy still had never recovered from the feelings he had about Walker ~ and Walker’s permanent replacement, Leo Durocher, had not done much to help Jimmy’s full morale about the field leadership in Houston. Besides ~ nothing in sight would make hitting home runs easier in the Astrodome for Jimmy or any other guys who wanted to hit for power.

Wish I had remembered in time to express these issues in Jimmy’s exact words, and so, I will simply describe them here in my own. Only Jimmy Wynn can fully speak for himself in this matter:

That being said …. and as I see it ….

In “The Toy Cannon”, (Chapter 13, page 154) Jimmy Wynn recognizes that Astros GM  Spec Richardson knew that the Astros had no choice after 1973 but to have his approval as a 10/5 man on any trade ~ or else ~ risk losing all his trade value to free agency. And I will always believe that Jimmy had communicated these two major conditional factors to getting his approval for a trade to GM Richardson prior to the actual deal in these terms.

Jimmy’s two preferences on a trade ….

Jimmy wanted to be traded to either (1) a ball park where home run hitting was easier ~ or ~ (2) to a franchise that had a real chance to reach the World Series.

I will always believe that Jimmy made these two preferred conditions clear to the Astros prior to his actual trade to the Dodgers ~ But I also concede that only a GM with a rock for a brain could have failed to figure them out independently. Spec may have possessed a number of shortcomings as a GM, but he was far from being a rock on this one. He knew exactly what Jimmy wanted to see in this deal and he brought it home in his Dodgers or Cubs choice.

Deal # 1 would have put him in Wrigley Field as a Chicago Cub ~ for what players ~ we do not know. The other possibility ~ Deal # 2 ~ was to see Jimmy Wynn join the pennant-contending Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jimmy Wynn expressed his preference to the Astros for LA ~ where he simply blossomed as a popular power hitter who finally got to a World Series, ~ and where his gallant effort in a losing cause in 1974 there included a World Series home run.

After his last 1977 season, Jimmy Wynn returned to Houston ~ the city that had become his home ~ and found work with the only franchise that still owns his heart to this day ~ in spite of some earlier hard times with certain Houston managers ~ and his one great pennant winning season with the LA Dodgers.

Jimmy Wynn – forever will be ~ one of the hearts that makes up the Big Heart of the Houston Astros!

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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One Response to “How Jimmy Wynn Got to LA in Dec. 1973”

  1. bobcopus Says:

    It was a great evening. You did well 🙂

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