On January 5, 1946, the St. Louis Cardinals sell star catcher Walker Cooper to the New York Giants for a record $175,000. Cooper batted .317 in 1944 but missed most of the 1945 season because of his enlistment in World War II.
On December 28, 1983, free agent outfielder Warren Cromartie signs a three-year contract with the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese League. Cromartie, who batted .278 for the Montreal Expos in 1983, will receive $2.5 million over the length of the contract.
On January 5, 1920, in perhaps the most famous transaction in baseball history, the New York Yankees formally announce the purchase of outfielder-pitcher Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox for $100,000. The trade had actually been made on December 26, 1919, but the announcement was delayed until Ruth could come to contract terms with the Yankees. Red Sox owner and theatrical entrepreneur Harry Frazee decides to sell Ruth because he needs money to support one of his theatrical productions, while paying off debts on Fenway Park. The Yankees will make Ruth a full-time outfielder in 1920
On December 23, 1958, the Philadelphia Phillies acquire infielder Sparky Anderson from the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Rip Repulski and two other players. Anderson won’t do much as a player, but will win three World Championships as a manager.
On December 23, 1981, the New York Yankees sign outfielder-first baseman Dave Collins to a free agent contract. Collins, who stole 79 bases for the Cincinnati Reds in 1979, will end up a bust in New York and will be traded after one season.
On December 23, 1995, the St. Louis Cardinals sign a pair of free agents: outfielder Ron Gant and pitcher Andy Benes. Gant hit 29 home runs and stole 23 bases for the Cincinnati Reds, and Benes won 11 games while splitting his season between San Diego and Seattle. Benes will join younger brother Alan in St. Louis’ rotation.
On December 24, 1969, star outfielder Curt Flood refuses to accept a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies, less than two months after being dealt by the St. Louis Cardinals. The trade had sent Flood, catcher Tim McCarver, outfielder Byron Browne, and pitcheFlood writes a letter to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, explaining that he should be free to sign with any team he chooses. “I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes,” writes Flood. Flood will file suit against Major League Baseball, challenging the game’s reserve clause, which binds a player perpetually to his team. After losing the suit, Flood will attempt a comeback with the Washington Senators.
On December 26, 1919, Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee makes a secret agreement to sell Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $400,000 in cash plus other considerations. The sale will be announced publicly one week later…