Another odd day off for the Royals, who remained in New York for the final game of their three-game series, set for June 16.
It was a quiet day for the Royals’ front office as well, as the team was unable to pull off a deal ahead of the trade deadline. The team had been hoping to add to their rotation, with Chicago White Sox starter Ken Brett their main target. But the California Angels swooped in and picked up the veteran at the cost of three marginal players and an undisclosed amount of money. The Angels, who entered play on June 15 with a 29-27 record that was good for third place in the AL West (but only 3.5 games out of first), also added Gary Nolan from the Cincinnati Reds to shore up their rotation behind Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana.
Royals players seemed upset by the lack of movement, as manager Whitey Herzog admitted.
“Yeah, they’re down,” the skipper said. “You can sense it. I’d say that’s the general feeling among them. It’s tough for them to stomach going against a team like California that has improved itself so much. But these players can’t feel sorry for themselves and make excuses for what deals other teams make. They’ve got to go out and play.”
General manager Joe Burke agreed, saying “I feel we have a championship team if our players play to their potential.”
Burke admitted the team had been looking to improve if they could, but were unable to make a deal. “If our players knew the facts, I don’t think they would be disappointed that we failed to make a trade. I don’t ever want to make a deal unless it helps the club. They were just asking too much for Ken Brett.”
Elsewhere in baseball, the biggest trade news came from the other New York team, as the Mets broke their fanbase’s collective heart by dealing Tom Seaver to the Reds. The ace of the Miracle Mets in 1969, Seaver was easily the most popular Met. After some acrimonious negotiations with the Mets, Seaver had finally agreed on a last-minute contract extension to stay in New York. But Daily News columnist Dick Young, who had been supporting the front office throughout the dispute, wrote a piece claiming that Seaver was only asking for more money because he and his wife were jealous of former Met Nolan Ryan and his wife. An incensed Seaver, upon reading the article on the morning of June 15, demanded the trade go through. Since the Mets had assumed Seaver would be dealt, the framework with the Reds was already in place, and Seaver was quickly headed to Cincinnati. The Mets also traded away slugger Dave Kingman at the deadline. Mets fans were incensed.
Another party angered by the trade was Oakland owner Charlie Finley, who called up reporters to complain that commissioner Bowie Kuhn had a double standard by allowing the Seaver deal to go through. Kuhn had sold pitcher Vida Blue to the Yankees the previous season, only for Kuhn to disallow the deal. “The trade of Tom Seaver, without a whimper from Bowie Kuhn, confirms his perverted, selective, and political use of his office to favor his friends and punish his enemies,” Finley said.