That Time a Professional Baseball Player Was Traded for a Turkey


Professional sports teams have always tried
to find unique ways to get fans into the seats. Whether it was the legendary Bill Veeck batting
the shortest player in baseball history (Eddie Gaedel at 3 foot 7 inches) or Disco Demolition
Night at Comiskey Park in Chicago, sometimes the game plays second fiddle to the crazy
promotions. Hardly anyone was better at this than Joe
Engel, known as the “Barnum of Baseball”. Engel began his career in baseball as a mediocre
pitcher for the Washington Senators, but his skills as a scout began his ascent into upper
management. Engel is credited for discovering such Hall
of Fame talent as Joe Cronin, Goose Goslin, and Bucky Harris. His scouting expertise caught the eye of Washington
Senators owner Clark Griffith, who had recently acquired the Chattanooga Lookouts as a farm
team for the Senators. In 1929, Griffith decided to promote Engel
to director of baseball operations for his new minor league team. Engel, delighted, immediately seized the opportunity. Joe Engel would be in charge of the Chattanooga
Lookouts for 34 years, bringing not just baseball to the citizens of Chattanooga, but wackiness
as well. He would do just about anything to get people
into the ballpark. He built a state-of-the-art stadium (for the
time) with his own money (at the cost of $150,000, about $2 million today) and named it Engel
Stadium, after himself. He had all his players ride to the game on
elephants; he had a duck lay an egg on second base; and he even wept in a “crying cage”
after his team lost out on a bid to host the All-Star game. In 1931, he signed a female pitcher named
Virne “Jackie” Mitchell and had her pitch against the New York Yankees in a exhibition
game. She promptly struck out Babe Ruth and Lou
Gehrig back to back, two of the greatest hitters ever. In 1937, Engel’s boss, Clark Griffith, wanted
to sell the team. Engel, seeing this as an opportunity, persuaded
1,700 Lookout fans to buy shares of the club at five bucks a pop. Engel wanted to make the Lookouts a team with
“local ownership” (otherwise known as a publicly-owned team, something the NFL’s
Green Bay Packers currently have). Unfortunately, within a year, there still
wasn’t enough cash, and Griffith bought back the team. One of the most well-known Joe Engel stories,
though, was the day in 1931 he decided to trade his shortstop for a turkey. Johnny Jones was a Chattanooga Lookouts player
that, frankly, wasn’t any good. He was such a weak-hitting shortstop that
even the press complained about him. So, in January 1931, Engel decided to trade
him to the Charlotte Hornets of the Piedmont League (they were not affiliated with any
major league team at the time, but in 1937, the Hornets would be bought by the Washington
Senators). In return, Engel and the Lookouts received
a 25 pound turkey. Said Engel, “The turkey was having a better
year.” In addition, he wanted the turkey to arrive
at team headquarters by February 22nd, in time for the Southern Writers’ Association
Dinner. At the dinner, Engel served the turkey to
the writers, reportedly declaring “You’ve been giving me the bird, so now have one on
me.” Everyone enjoyed the meal, though Engel commented
that he thought Charlotte won the trade because the turkey was a little tough. As for Johnny Jones, no one is quite sure
what happened to him. Since records are spotty for minor league
teams in the early 20th century, it’s hard to know for sure, but most think he retired
without ever playing for the Charlotte Hornets.

79 thoughts on “That Time a Professional Baseball Player Was Traded for a Turkey

  1. 👍 Another great video. I wish more of the others who make these style videos had your gift of video production and narrative skills

  2. Weird transfer fees still happen now. Collins John was transferred from DES Nijverdal, to FC Twente, for a few encloypedias. Franco Di Santo was traded for some nets and paint and Crystal Palace bought Ian Wright for some gym weights.

  3. At first I thought the full title was gonna be "That time a baseball player dropped acid and pitched a no-hitter". Maybe next time?

  4. Honestly, that was a follow up to the other recent video about that crazy Baseball player- what was his name Schmitzer oder Schleifer or something like that!
    I saw the video about the creation process, now THAT was some cross-research right?

  5. Topic idea
    Why are pants called a "pair of pants" when it is one item? And how did we end up with modern jeans and what came before them?

  6. How to shame a child, son I’m trading you for a turkey, he’s had a more productive year. Enjoy foster care.

  7. Are we sure it was a turkey? It may have actually been a chicken, who was named Nugget and put in charge of some real estate business.

  8. Is there a full-time baseball league for women with the same number of games as the MLB per team? Yeah, thought so. If there actually is, who would watch? Maybe 3 more viewers than the WBNA which would make that like 5 people? Maybe Babe is right. F*ck PC culture.

  9. So when are you coming to Chattanooga since you’ve done several videos to feature our city. I’ve got a studio you can use for vid while here and we would cover your hotel.

  10. "…Because they are too delicate…" to which every woman who carried a baby to term in the summer '31 w/o the benefit of air conditioning replied, "Do tell…"

  11. Good video. Watching on my shitty iPhone speaker though, the high frequencies really hit on the audio. A de-esser of sorts could smooth that out in the future.

    Keep up the good work

  12. KEYCHAINS!!!!!! PLEASE! everyone has things like shirts, sweaters, mugs, and things but no one makes keychains. I collect keychains and would be more likely to buy those than anything else….

  13. A quick little question here;

    What exactly is paprika , and how come it doesn’t really have any taste??;

    What’s it’s purpose??;

    Inquiring minds want to know??🤔

  14. Didn't the Cubs do that EXACT SAME THING when they turned down Jake Arrieta for Yu Darvish? 🤔

  15. You should do the slide over face masks, they are in the shape of a tube you slip over your head and cover your face head and neck , you can print a logo around the whole thing

  16. Lol. Reminds me of the story of "suitcase sisler" who still holds the record as most traded player….who tried to fool managers by his ladt name…i believe the famous one held his.record till the 1990s.

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