In four instances in Major League Baseball’s storied history, there was an instance of a player being traded, for themselves. This can happen if the deal involves a “player to be named later”. The player isn’t performing well, and the team that promised a PTBNL will just send the acquired individual to the initial team that dealt him to them.
The four players traded for themselves are John McDonald, Dickie Noles, Brad Gulden, and this article’s featured subject, Harry Chiti.
Trades tend to happen relatively often in professional sports. A player isn’t fitting in well with one team, so they inquire to the others in their league to make a move and bring them over. Generally, trades involve one player going from one place to another, with either players, draft picks, and/or cash heading back.
Harry Chiti and His Days in Chicago
Harry Chiti’s major league career began as a member of the Chicago Cubs. He was a ripe 17 years of age when he made his Major-League debut in 1950. He came in as a pinch hitter for his first-ever at-bat against Pittsburgh on a game played on September 27th. He got out. The same thing happened two days later against St. Louis.
17-year-old Harry Chiti recorded two singles in a win against the Cardinals on October 1st. The teenager was on the board. He would appear in 41 games over the next two seasons as a Cub, picking up 42 hits in 125 at-bats, knocking five home runs out of the park, and driving in 18 runs. Following the 1952 season, he left baseball to serve in the military, which he did for two years.
Chiti came back and hit 11 home runs during the 1955 season. The catcher batted .231 for the year. and in 1956, Chiti’s average dipped to .212, picking up 43 hits in 203 at-bats. He hit four home runs in all. His days in Chicago were then over. No longer would Harry Chiti be called a “Cub”. He had some great moments there, making his debut before he was even of legal voting age. He didn’t turn 18 until over 45 days after his first MLB appearance.
The Next Six Years
Very little news about Harry Chiti came out between 1957-1961. He didn’t appear in a game at all during the 1957 year, and was acquired by the Kansas City Athletics via the rule 5 draft ahead of the 1958 season. He got back in the lineup there, hitting nine home runs and driving in 44 runs, with a .268 average for the year.
He would hit .272 in limited opportunities the following year, and in 1960, he was traded to Detroit. His production continued to be minimal, as Chiti sort of just blended into the background. He got some reps at catcher, but he didn’t have what it took to be the everyday guy for his team.
After appearing in just five games in 1961, he was traded to Cleveland. And it was in Cleveland where we saw the weird transaction occur.
Harry Chiti Was Traded for Himself. Wait What?
On April 26, 1962, the New York Mets purchased Chiti from Cleveland, for a player to be named later. So, his time as a New York Met was about to begin. Having been in and out of the minors during his career-to-date, the 29-year-old was ready to perhaps have a chance to be the everyday catcher.
Well, it didn’t quite go so well. Chiti started 15 games, logging 41 at-bats. He hit 8-41, giving him a putrid .195 average, with one double and seven singles. This being the first year of the Mets’ existence, everybody was new. New York finished the season just 40-120. But, Chiti wouldn’t be around nearly that long.
The Mets decided to cut their losses and make a trade with Cleveland. The player to be named later in the deal made less than two months earlier, was Chiti. Harry was going back to Cleveland, who he hadn’t suited up for before being traded.
Now, he was going back there. But the playing time was not there. He would play in the minors for the next two years, never making it to the major-league level. So, Harry Chiti was traded for himself. And he got to be a weird footnote in MLB’s history books.
Thanks for the Memories, Harry
The playing career of Harry Chiti wasn’t very memorable. But he managed to serve two years in the military as a teenager, and then come back and play eight more years. That is impressive in and of itself. The ’50s were a very different time than the period we’re living in now.
Chiti will always be an anomaly, being one of just four players to be traded from one team to another, and back to the original team, as part of the same deal.
Chiti would live 50 years past his final MLB campaign. He passed away at the age of 69, in 2002.
Rest in peace, Harry. Thank you for the oddity that was your MLB career.
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