1939 December

6th  In a trade of veteran shortstops–or “worn-out shortstops,” as one newspaper described it–the Cubs acquire Billy Rogell from the Detroit Tigers for Dick Bartell. Rogell, who injured his arm playing handball the previous year, will hit just .136 before hanging up his spikes. The Tigers will release “Rowdy Richard” 5 games into the 1941 season, but he will stick with the Giants until 1946.

The Bees are busy clearing their pitching staff. Jim Turner goes to the Reds for 1B Les Scarsella and cash, while Johnny Lanning is sent to Pittsburgh for P Jim Tobin and cash. On December 8th, P Danny MacFaydan joins Tobin in a trade for P Bill Swift.

7th  Lou Gehrig, age 36, is unanimously elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame, the sole choice this year. The five-year waiting period is waived for the Iron Horse.

8th  The White Sox trade Gee Walker to the Senators for Pete Appleton and Taffy Wright. The Sox also pick up OF Moose Solters from the Browns for OF Ray Radcliffe, both sluggers coming of poor years. The Dodgers get Gus Mancuso and Newt Kimball from the Cubs for Al Todd.

The Braves trade veteran Danny MacFayden to the Pirates for Bill Swift and cash.

At the December meeting of both leagues in Cincinnati, Judge Landis votes against all amendments favorable to farm systems. The Rules committee, with an eye towards raising declining batting averages, votes to restore the sacrifice fly for 1940. Seven American League owners push through a new rule barring the AL champion from making any trades within the league. Clearly aimed at the Yankees, winners of the last 4 world series, the National League owners decline to vote it for their league.

9th  Wally Moses is traded by the Philadelphia A’s to Detroit for Benny McCoy and George Coffman. The deal will later be voided by Judge Landis, who declares McCoy a free agent because of a Tigers cover-up. He gets a $10,000 bonus to sign with the A’s.

11th  The Yomiuri Giants beat the Hanshin Tigers, 4–2, to clinch the Japanese league pennant. The Giants will win the pennant for the next 4 years.

27th The New York Giants obtain infielder Mickey Witek from the Newark Bears for $40,000 and infielder Alex Kampouris and catcher Tommy Padden. New York has high hopes for Witek, the 1939 MVP in the International League.

The Cubs trade Gene Lillard, Steve Mesner and cash to the Cardinals for minor league blue chipper Ken Raffensberger. Raffy won 15 games at Rochester in each of the past 2 seasons.