No. 258 Rocky Colavito (Number 29 Right Field)

As a kid I knew who Rocky Colavito was as he tied Harmon Killebrew for the homerun crown in 1959. What I didn’t know was Colavito hit 40 or more homers 3 times in his career and his most comparable player for three of the four years from ages 25 – 28 was Harmon Killebrew. However, while Killebrew peaked in his early 30s, Colavito started to fade at age 32.

Colavito actually didn’t have a great season for himself at age 31 but won the RBI crown. He faded a little more in 1966 at the age of 32. Then he was a platoon player with Leon Wagner in 1967. Neither player was happy with the arrangement, and both were hitting just slightly above average. Gabe Paul the general manager of the Indians traded Colavito to the White Sox who were in contention.

Colavito didn’t hit as well with the White Sox as with the Indians. However, the White Sox stayed in contention in a four-team race. They were only one game back with a week to go and 5 games left to play. They had to play two games in Kansas City against the last place Athletics and three games to end the season with Washington who ended up tied for sixth. The White Sox lost all 5 even though Colavito got his share of hits. The White Sox were shutout in 3 of the losses and scored only 5 runs in 5 games.

The next year was Colavito’s last. He was to the Dodgers and then to the Yankees. His stats looked terrible, but he was actually an above average hitter for the year. However, he also hit only 8 homeruns for the second straight year. Colavito decided to retire at age 35.

Colavito was very popular when traded from Cleveland the first time he was traded. He was traded by Frank Lane who was known as Trader Frankie Lane as he made a lot of trades.  He changed around the White Sox with several good trades making them along with the Yankees and the Indians one of the three dominant teams of the American League for the 1950s.

However, Lane probably figured he could outsmart everyone and made a lot of trades when he was general manager of the Cardinals for two years. Rumor has it that he wanted to trade Stan Musial for Robin Roberts until management nixed the deal.


The Colavito deal doesn’t make sense at all. First of all Colavito was the best player on the Indians the previous two seasons with only Minnie Minoso being close. Kuenn had played shortstop but not that great and the Indians had a shortstop in Woodie Wood. He wasn’t great, but he was a solid player. Kuenn was 3 years older than Colavito. He ended up playing right field for the Indians. For only one year, then he was traded.


So, you traded your best player who is young and popular with the fans for an older player who might be as good and can play a more difficult position. If he played that position there might be some justification, but no he ends up playing the same position. Then you trade him after one year. This does not make any sense to me.


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