On this date, the Phillies trade for a player who would retire in protest
Every year we see things in sports we never thought we’d see happen. Take the coronavirus shutting down the Phillies season for example.
Well, on this date, March 20, 1958, the Phillies were a part of something that rarely happens in sports.
Going into the 1958 season the Phillies were coming off a 77-77 year where they finished fifth out of eight teams in the National League. Richie Ashburn was still an All-Star caliber player (he’d hit .350 in ’58) and 1,146,230 people packed into Connie Mack Stadium.
The team was solid with franchise players like Ashburn, Granny Hamner and Willie Jones leading the offense and a rotation that included Robin Roberts and Curt Simmons, though Roberts lost 22 games and gave up 40 home runs that year.
Philadelphia also had a young first baseman named Ed Bouchee, who finished second in the Rookie of the Year vote after hitting 17 home runs with a .293 batting average.
Looking to add more offense, the Phillies purchased first baseman/outfielder Joe Collins from the New York Yankees.
Collins had played 10 seasons in New York, won five World Series, and received two MVP votes in 1952. He played with Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, and Don Larsen.
Now 34 years old, Collins was coming off the worst season of his career, hitting .201 with just two home runs in 79 games for New York. He was never an All-Star, averaged 15 home runs a year, and only twice did he hit over .280 in a given season.
Outside of three solid years in the middle of his career, Collins was an average player on a great team.
However, when the trade went through and Collins was told he was going to be a Phillie, he retired at the age of 34.
The trade was voided and the Phillies went onto finish in dead last in 1958, winning just 69 games despite an MVP-worthy season from Ashburn. Manager Mayo Smith was fired after a 39–45 start.
Had Joe Collins played for the Phillies, there may have never been a Tony Taylor trade. That would have dramatically altered Phillies history, taking away who’s now considered the second greatest second baseman in franchise history, behind Chase Utley.