Only On Paper: Nearly 1961 Senators and Angels

This is the third in a series about relatively notable players who were acquired by an expansion team ahead of its first season but weren’t on that team’s roster come Opening Day.

I’m going to cover the expansion Senators and Angels in one go, because they were partners in clumsily-handled American League expansion of 1961.  You can read about it more in this SABR article about the mis-management of that year’s expansion, but in a nutshell the AL rushed into expansion and didn’t hold teams to the established rules during the draft.  At some point it was realized that the involved draft rules weren’t being followed and adjustments were made so that the rules were followed after the fact.  Several players like Dean Chance, Ken Aspromonte and Coot Veal were “traded” from the Senators to the Angels and vice versa to get the expansion teams below the number of players who could be selected from each established team, while other players were assigned back to their original teams to ‘un-do’ their selection.

I bring this up to point out that I am not, for example, going to count future Cy Young winner Dean Chance as “Nearly A Senator” since his time on the Senators roster was more of a technicality than anything else.

I’ll also point out that any references to the Senators means the 1961 expansion team which was created to replace the original Senators who moved to the state of Minnesota for the 1961 season and became the Twins.

Haywood Sullivan – A Senator Only On Paper

Sullivan played in 312 career games, mostly as a catcher, but is more famous (infamous?) for his stint as GM of the Red Sox from 1978 to 1983.  The Senators drafted him from the Red Sox, and a little over two weeks later traded him to the Kansas City Athletics for pitcher Marty Kutyna.  Kutyna would pitch reasonably well in 104 games for the Senators in 1961 and 1962

Bobby Shantz – A Senator Only On Paper

Bobby Shantz was one of a number of Yankees taken in the expansion draft.  A couple of days later he was flipped to the Pirates for three players.  He would pitch in relief for the Bucs in 1961 and win his 5th consecutive Gold Glove.  The three players the Pirates sent to DC were Harry Bright, Bennie Daniels and R C Stevens.  Daniels would earn a 12-11 record for the 100-loss Senators, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Duke Maas – An Angel Only On Paper… And In Spring Training

Duke Maas, who won 14 games with the Yankees in 1959, was selected in the expansion draft and went to spring training with the Angels. He was dealt back to the Bronx shortly before the season started. On the surface it seems like an astute move by the Angels as Maas would make just one 1961 appearance before arm troubles shut him down for good… but the player they got in exchange, infielder Fritz Brickell, would play in just 21 games for the Angels and bat .122

As it would turn out, both players would appear in 1961 Topps as a Yankee… Brickell in the 4th series and Maas in the 5th. This was Brickell’s only Topps card

8 thoughts on “Only On Paper: Nearly 1961 Senators and Angels

  1. Fascinating information presented here. Obviously, the 1961 expansion draft occurred before my time, and yet I have collected the baseball cards of virtually every player mentioned here (except Fritz Brickell who, I must admit, I had never heard of until now!). This is riveting content for a long-time collector like me. Keep up the great research and reporting!

  2. I had no idea that the 1961 draft was so thoroughly fubared. Amazing that a major league could fail to explain the rules of the draft to the participating teams!

  3. Heywood Sullivan’s reign as Red Sox GM is particularly infamous for his wasting of the team’s second round pick in the 1979 draft on his son Marc and the subsequent undeserved promotions the younger Sullivan got in the Red Sox minor league system. Wade Boggs spent SIX seasons in Boston’s minor leagues (including five where he hit over .300) before making his MLB debut – Marc Sullivan spent less than four, never hitting more than .268. Dude was horrible and was the primary backup catcher for the Sox during most of the 80’s as well as the starting catcher when Rich Gedman held out and missed the beginning of the 1987 season.

    Not that I’m still irritated about this after 30+ years or anything…

  4. Expansion drafts fascinate me anyways, but I had no idea the ’61 draft was so badly organized. As if it isn’t hard enough being an expansion team in the first place…

  5. Player cards from expansion teams are hard to get, like the Seattle Pilots who cards in 1968 & 69 before relocating to become the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970.

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