Kansas City Royals: Gene Garber
"On July 12, 1974, the Philadelphia Phillies purchased Gene Garber from the Kansas City Royals."
The Phillies and Royals have only made six deals and while this one isn’t a blockbuster, it stands out above the rest as both the first of those six and as the only deal that brought an impactful player to the Phillies
In 1974 the Phillies were getting ready to peak out of their playoff drought that had lasted since 1950. They were in about the same spot the Phillies of the mid-2000s were, a bunch of young guys fighting for a playoff spot but always coming up a couple of games short.
With Danny Ozark at the helm, the Phillies were 38-37 on July 1 and within reach of the division lead. They finished June and started July with an eight game losing streak, diminishing their playoffs hopes even more.
On July 12 the team won their six of their last nine games. They had the offense, they had some starting pitching, but their bullpen was rough. In the first half of the season the relievers had a 4.81 ERA with 103 walks in 185.1 innings. Something needed to be done.
General manager Paul “The Pope” Owens purchase right-handed reliever Gene Garber from the Kansas City Royals. The 26-year-old Garber had pitched parts of four seasons for Pittsburgh and Kansas City, but he was far from a sure thing.
After the trade Garber helped turn around the bullpen with a 2.06 ERA in 34 games. In the second half the bullpen’s ERA dropped nearly an entire point. The trade of Garber mixed with the addition of Pete Richert helped propel the team to an 80-82 season.
Garber would become a centerpiece to the Phillies bullpen in the late 70s with a 2.68 ERA and 51 saves. In 1975 he led the league with 71 appearances and 47 games finished.
Philadelphia would trade Garber to Atlanta to reacquire Dick Ruthven and Garber began a long career with the Braves, including a 30 save season in 1982.
In 1978 he ended Pete Rose’s 44 game hit streak with a strikeout.