This Day in Twins History – December 12, 1969

Graig Nettles

Graig Nettles

In a major deal the Minnesota Twins trade pitchers Dean Chance and Bob Miller, outfielder Ted Uhlaender, and 3B Graig Nettles to the Cleveland Indians for pitchers Luis Tiant and Stan Williams.

The Twins were fresh off a 97-65 season but had lost the ALCS to the Baltimore Orioles 3 games to none in the first year that the ALCS was played. Owner Calvin Griffith fired his feisty manager Billy Martin shortly after the playoffs and hired veteran baseball manager Bill Rigney to take over.

The Twins gave up a lot to acquire Luis “El Tiante” Tiant and Stan “Big Daddy” Williams. The 33 year-old Williams had a phenomenal season in 1970 out of the pen when he went 10-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 68 games while pitching 113.1 innings. 1971 was anther story with Williams going 4-5 with a 4.15 ERA and the Twins traded hin to the Cardinals in September.

Luis Tiant

Luis Tiant

Tiant was only 9-20 in 1969 but he was 21-9 in 1968 and the Twins had high hopes for Tiant. He pitched very well at the start of the 1970 season, and by the end of May was 6-0 with a 3.12 ERA when he went on the disabled list with arm troubles. He came back in early August, but only won one more game the rest of the way and finished the season with a 7-3 record and a 3.40 ERA. Tiant’s arm problems only got worse in the off-season, and the Twins released him at the end of spring training in 1971. The Atlanta Braves signed Tiant but within a month they too let him go and Tiant signed with the Boston Red Sox in May of 1971. With his fastball apparently gone it appeared that Tiant was done. However; Tiant began a remarkable comeback in 1972, reinventing himself as a junkballer, throwing an incredible variety of pitches from all sorts of arm angles. All of these came off a bizarre motion that had him looking straight at second base in the middle of his wind-up. Between 1972-1978, Tiant put up a 121-74 record for the Red Sox with a 3.30 ERA while averaging 243 innings per year. After leaving the Red Sox, Tiant pitched for the Yankees, Pirates and the Angels and left the major leagues in his rear view mirror after the 1982 season and 19 seasons and went on to pitch in Mexico at the age of 42.

Probably not one of the Twins best trades if you consider the wonderful career that Graig Nettles went to have. You just never know for years sometimes how trades really turned out. There was a nice article done by the Cleveland Plain Dealer back in 2009 about Dean Chance that you might enjoy checking out here. I have been trying to get in touch with Chance for an interview for years with no luck what so ever.

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