Pro athletes make obscene amounts of money. Let’s just get that out of the way right now, because it’s the truth, we all know it, and it makes us all insanely jealous. They live the high life, flying in charter jets, driving fancy cars, marrying the hottest models and living lives we all wish were ours with those big, exorbitant contracts that set them up for life. But sometimes, professional sport contracts and transactions are not quite as great as we might otherwise think. Sometimes there are bizarre clauses thrown into said contracts, and sometimes a pro athlete gets traded for something he feels is less than his worth. Like, you know, an inanimate object. Such as…
Tim Fortugno is worth exactly one trip to the sporting goods store
Baseball seems to have more inherent wackiness than just about any other sport, what with the off the wall theme nights and promotions and more ridiculous superstitions than just about every other sport combined. But few things are as completely strange and, frankly, insulting than being known as the guy who was traded for a dozen baseballs. Unfortunately for Tim Fortugno, that is how he will forever be remembered.
But hey, at least he’s remembered at all, right? After all, he didn’t exactly have the most stellar pitching career. The pitcher made his professional debut in 1992 for the California Angels and would ultimately go on to appear in 76 games in his career, and is also known as that guy who gave up George Brett’s 3,000th career hit. Most famously – or infamously, we should say – Fortugno was also the guy who was once traded by the Milwaukee Brewers for a dozen balls. Sure, there was $25,000 to go along with those baseballs, but no one is going to remember that. Instead, Fortugno will always be the guy who was deemed to have the same value as 12 balls.
“I’ll give you Harry Chiti for Harry Chiti.”
You’ve probably never heard of Harry Chiti, a former big league catcher who broke into the major leagues at the tender age of 17 with the Chicago Cubs. Over the course of his career, Chiti also played for the Yankees, Royals, Athletics, Tigers, Orioles and Indians. Basically we’re saying that the dude seriously got around. In fact, he was traded so frequently that it really shouldn’t come as a shock that he is also the guy who became famous for once being traded…for himself.
You read that right, though it might seem a bit confusing at first glance. In 1962, before he actually ever played for Cleveland, he was dealt to the New York Mets for a “player to be named later.” Two months later, the Mets finally named that player, and his name was Harry Chiti. Chiti, who had been batting a measly .195 for the Mets, was sent back to the Indians in the same deal that had originally brought him to New York. He never played in the Majors again after that, spending the rest of his career in the Minor Leagues before retiring. But hey, we’ll be willing to bet you’ll remember Harry Chiti now, won’t you?
“I’ll give you Dave Winfield for a nice steak dinner.”
Now unlike Harry Chiti, if you’re a baseball fan then odds are you’ve heard of Dave Winfield. A Hall of Fame ballplayer who achieved the unbelievable feat of being drafted in three sports (baseball, the NBA and the NFL), Winfield played in the big leagues for more than two decades, so it makes sense that he would eventually bounce around the league a little bit. He piled up more than 3,000 hits and better than 500 home runs in his career, and he is also the only guy we can ever think of who was traded for a candlelight dinner.
Okay, so we don’t know if candles were actually involved, but Winfield was actually traded for dinner in 1994. See, that’s when the strike hit and cut the season short. Too bad that the Minnesota Twins had already traded Winfield to the Cleveland Indians for that pesky “player to be named later,” and by the time the players went on strike that player had still not been named. To settle things up, rather than waiting out the strike and choosing an actual player to complete the deal, the general managers of the Twins and Indians got together for a nice dinner and the Indians GM picked up the check. We can only hope they didn’t leave Harry Chiti as a gratuity.