July 20, 1916—Acquired OF Edd Roush, 3b Bill McKechnie, RHP-Mgr Christy Mathewson for ss-Mgr Buck Herzog, and OF Red Killefer.

It’s a trade that brought THREE future Hall of Famers to the Reds in one day and was the second stepping stone to winning the 1919 World Championship.

I think Mathewson is the second greatest pitcher of all time behind Cy Young. He had been a Red for about two weeks after being drafted in a minor league draft (for $100) and was then stolen away in a somewhat shady deal 16 years earlier with the New York Giants (Reds owner traded Mathewson to the Giants and then bought the Giants a short time later…). In this 1916 deal, Mathewson came to the Reds to be their manager, only pitching one game for them (a challenge duo with another aging star, Mordecai Brown; Mathewson won, 10-8; Mathewson had 373 lifetime wins). Mathewson managed the Reds until most of the way through 1918 when he left the Reds to fight in World War I.

McKechnie was a utility infielder who later managed the Reds to their 1940 World Series championship. As a player with the Reds, McKechnie appeared in 85 Reds games before being sold to the Pirates.

However, Edd Roush became one of the greatest Reds of all time, and would be my pick as the starting centerfielder for any “best of” Reds team. As they did a few years earlier when acquiring Heinie Groh, the Reds raided a deep Giants team for young talent.

Roush played all or parts of 12 seasons for the Reds, batting .300 or higher in ten of those seasons. He twice led the league in batting, eight times finishing in the top five, and ten times in the top ten. He led the league in OPS in 1918 and was elected to Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame by the Veterans’ Committee in 1962. Baseball historian Bill James picks Roush as being the 15th greatest centerfielder in major league history.

Roush was an ardent defender of the Reds’ tainted 1919 World Series victory over the infamous Chicago Black Sox. I think his argument has merit. That Reds’ team had a .686 won loss percentage on the strength of a 96-44 record. It was truly an outstanding season for the Reds whose team had many pitchers come through with career seasons to support the efforts of Roush, Groh, and others. As James has written, the White Sox weren’t necessarily a better team than the Reds. The American League had been the dominant league of the 1910’s and whichever team came from the AL would have been considered the popular favorite justified or not.

Oddly enough, Roush wasn’t even the guy the Reds wanted in the deal. The Reds wanted outfielder Benny Kauff, a .311 lifetime hitter who had played with Roush in the Federal League. However, the Giants wouldn’t part with Kauff so the Reds had to “settle” for Roush. It was one of the best deals the Reds ever made. Kauff was later suspected of fixing Major League baseball games. He officially was banned after being charged with auto theft and receiving stolen property.

Oh…the Reds gave up outfielder Red Killefer and shortstop-manager Buck Herzog to get the three future Hall of Famers. Killefer was a weak hitting outfielder who batted only twice for the Giants after the trade. Buck Herzog was a pretty good shortstop who played for five more seasons after the deal. He never managed in the majors again after being traded by the Reds. As Reds manager, his record was 165-226.

As mentioned in the Mathewson trade post, after becoming manager Mathewson set about to improve the Reds’ pitching. From the waiver wire, the Reds found Dutch Ruether, Slim Sallee, and Ray Fisher, and they signed youngsters Hod Eller, Jimmy Ring, and Dolf Luque. Their pitching staff was set and many had career years for the 1919 World Series championship team.