If I were a major league ballplayer and someone told me I was being traded on April 1st, I’d think someone was trying to pull one over on me. However, trades do happen, even on days known for their practical jokes. Ed Ott was your average useful catcher: not great with the bat but solid behind the plate with a good arm. I remember Ott being one of my favorites as a young child, mostly because his name was easy to say and remember. Coming off of a decent 1980 season, Ott was dealt to the Angels with Mickey Mahler for Jason Thompson. The Pirates had a promising young catcher named Tony Pena ready to step in and needed a replacement for aging Hall of Famer Willie Stargell. Thompson was then immediately dealt to the Yankees for first baseman Jim Spencer and minor leaguers Greg Cochran and Fred Toliver, but the commissioner blocked the deal. This turned out to be a big boon for the Bucs. Spencer was instead dealt to Oakland midseason and was done the next year. Cochran never made the majors and Toliver bounced around as a middle reliever before ending his career pitching in 12 games for the 1993 Pirates. Thompson started at first for four years, hitting 31 HR and making the All-Star team in 1982.
Thanks again to John Dreker of Pirates Prospects for bringing this deal to my attention. Be sure to read This Day in Pirates History for more on this deal and the Tony Pena/Andy Van Slyke trade which happened six years later to the day.
Filed under: baseball, Pirates, Trade Tree Tagged: | Andy Van Slyke, April Fool's Day, baseball, Ben Abner, Ed Ott, Fred Toliver, Greg Cochran, Jason Thompson, Jim Spencer, John Dreker, Mickey Mahler, Pirates, Pirates Prospects, Ron Johns, Ronnie Giddens, Tony Pena, Trade Tree, Willie Stargell