>The Biggest Thing to Never Happen

>If you think Twitter exploded today during the three-way Granderson trade, imagine what it would have been like if the Yankees and Red Sox made good on a legendary almost deal over 50 years ago. It would have looked something like this:

injuryexpert: Big announcement coming up.
about 8 hours ago from telegram

SI_JonHeyman: #Yankees and #Redsox discussing Joe DiMaggio for Dom DiMaggio. Awkward family reunion anyone?
about 4 hours ago from typewriter

SI_JonHeyman: Sorry, not Dom DiMaggio, another Boston outfielder.
about 3 hours ago from typewriter

Ken_Rosenthal: DiMaggio for Williams in the works. Both sides pushing hard.
about 3 hours ago from passenger pigeon

about 2 hours ago from loud, obnoxious shouting

BUSTER_ESPN: Saw Tom Yawkey in the lobby. looked hammered.
about 2 hours ago from typewriter

SI_JonHeyman: Teams exchanging medical records
about 2 hours ago from typewriter

jaysonst: How about them #Phillies?
about 2 hours ago from obvious bias

Ken_Rosenthal: Talks break down. #Yankees ask for more than DiMaggio?
about 1 hour ago from passenger pigeon

SI_JonHeyman: #Yankees, #Red Sox talks flatline.
about 30 minutes ago from typewriter

Buster_ESPN: Williams for DiMaggio officially dead. Both teams thought better of it.
about 5 minutes ago from typewriter

Supposedly, way back in 1947, the Yankees and Red Sox agreed in principle to swap Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. DiMaggio was older and slightly more established, having already won two MVP awards, lead the league in batting twice, and, oh yeah, that hitting-streak-thing, but Williams wasn’t exactly Bill Bergen. Williams, at that point, had already hit .406 as a 22-year old and also won an MVP. The idea was that the left-handed hitting Ted Williams was better suited for the short right field in Yankee Stadium and the righty DiMaggio would be able to take advantage of Green Monster in Fenway, thus maximizing the value of each player. It made sense, minus the part where the still-beating hearts of the fans get ripped out ala “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”.

The deal predictably fell apart after either:

A. The Red Sox demanded Yogi Berra in addition to DiMaggio, or, more likely,

B. Both owners sobered up the next morning and backed out of the deal.

This is one of the biggest what-if scenarios in baseball history. Imagine if they had gone through with this crazy trade. It’s the kind of trade you can only make in video games, and only after you turned on the “force CPU trades” option. It would be one of the darkest moments in Boston sports history, and there have been many. DiMaggio only played four seasons after 1947, whereas Williams played thirteen; whoever you feel is the better player, thirteen season of Williams is far more valuable than four of DiMaggio. Williams would have worn an interlocked NY hat on his plaque in Cooperstown and won a couple of World Series with the Yankees; DiMaggio would, in all likelihood, still be wearing his Yankee cap in the Hall, but the city of Boston probably doesn’t get any world championships, but Joe would have gotten to patrol the Fenway outfield with his brother, which would have been great for their mother at least.

As for what the players themselves would have gotten out of the deal, it can basically be summarized as such: more home runs. Their already preposterous numbers would have become slightly more preposterous. Ted Williams hit 25 more home runs on the road than he did at Fenway, a marginal difference for someone who hit 521 for his career.* I don’t know if sticking Teddy Ballgame in the Bronx would have made that big of a difference, because of his 62 home runs against the Yankees, only 30 came at the Stadium. My guess is that the Yankee-verse version of Williams probably has a few more home runs, but not a ton more.

* Ted Williams was absolutely neutralized by left handed pitching. He hit 64 home runs off lefties, and 457 off righties. As Mike Francesa would say, “I didn’t know that. Did you know that dawg? I didn’t know that. That’s a yuge gap. yuge, dawg. yuge. Hey Minko, did you know that one? I didn’t know that. Nice job by the caller there. Alright now we’ve got Sim from Secaucus on the line. Am I saying that right? Sim?”
“It’s actually just Sam, Mike. Long time listener, first time caller.”
“Good to hear that, Sim. Whachya got for us?”
And . . . scene.

Joltin’ Joe, on the other hand, hit 65 more home runs away then he did in the Bronx, meaning 59% of DiMaggio’s career home runs came on the road, a historically high number. Babe Ruth his 51% of his home runs on the road, Barry Bonds hit 50%, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron 49%, and DiMaggio’s colleague Yogi Berra 41%. Bill Jenkinson, via the wikipedia, estimates that DiMaggio would have hit an additional 77 HR if he had played his home games in a typical modern stadium. My guess is that if you stick DiMaggio in Fenway instead of “typical modern stadium”, he would have hit even more. 29 of DiMaggio’s 46 HR against the Red Sox came at Fenway Park.* DiMaggio on the Red Sox for his last 4 years adds probably another 12-20 HR to his career total.

*If DiMaggio played for the St. Louis Browns, he maybe would have reached 500. Maybe. He hit 67 home runs against the Browns, 45 coming at Sportsman’s Park. Then again, had he played for the Browns, he would not have gotten to play against the Browns, who were miserable during DiMaggio’s career.

Of course the Yankees and Red Sox’ sobered up and never went through with the deal, and two of the greatest players ever were never traded for each other. So the imaginary twitter world of the 1940’s never got to see this:

sportsguy33: Wait, what the hell just happened?
about 5 hours ago from local bar

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