Cubs trade Hoyt Wilhelm to Braves for Hal Breeden
He may be forty-three, but he has a young arm. There’s no end in sight for him. He may be around a long time yet.
But as “Old Sarge” got older, teams grew wary about his ability to keep pitching. His numbers were impressive, but it almost seemed too good to be true. As a result, teams essentially started playing hot potato with him – more than willing to utilize the knuckleballer for the short-term, but unwilling to commit to a multi-year contract.
On Nov. 30, 1970, when Wilhelm was 48, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for first baseman Hal Breeden. At the time, Wilhelm was the oldest player to have ever been traded in the history of the game. Breeden, who the Associated Press said “will have a shot at being successor to Ernie Banks,” had just finished an impressive year in the International League in which he hit 37 home runs and 116 RBI. He was also 21 years younger than Wilhelm.
Wilhelm had been dealt to the Cubs by the Braves for cash with 10 games left in the regular season, making only three pitching appearances in their race for the National League east title. It was as if he had been loaned to Chicago, and now the Braves were asking for their loan to be returned.
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Alex Coffey is the communications specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame