With the Seattle Mariners shipping Ken Griffey Jr. to the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, you'd have to go back 80 years to find the last time a player with the unofficial title of "Best Player in the Game" was traded while still hanging on to the moniker.
It was on Jan. 3, 1920 that Babe Ruth was sold by Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee to the New York Yankees for $125,000 and a $300,000 loan. While Frazee was using much of the loan to invest in the Broadway production of "No, No, Nanette," Ruth was building a house, so to speak, and a dynasty in the South Bronx.
Ruth wasn't even 25 years old and was coming off a season in which he batted .322 and led the American League in home runs (29, which was a record) and runs batted in (114) when he was sent south to New York. This was less than two years after making his mark as a pitcher.
The resultant Curse of the Bambino has kept the Red Sox from winning a World Series since 1918, when Ruth went 2-0 on the mound for Boston, while New York went on to win four titles with Ruth, who hit 665 homers as a Yankee.
Will there be a Curse of Junior for the Emerald City while Griffey turns the Queen City into a 21st century titletown? After all, Griffey is only 30 and is already a 10-time all-star center fielder.
Plus, he is seen as the best bet to unseat Hank Aaron as baseball's all-time home run king. Griffey has 398 homers in 11 seasons. Aaron, who had 755 in 23 years, had 366 after 11 years; Ruth, who finished with 714 in 22 years, hit 284 in his first 11.
Other baseball superstars to have been swapped in their prime include Mike Piazza, who went from the Dodgers to the Florida Marlins in arguably the biggest blockbuster deal ever in a seven-player deal on May 15, 1998; Frank Robinson, who was the AL's MVP in 1966 after winning the Triple Crown and led the Baltimore Orioles to a World Series title immediately after being traded by the Reds; Rogers Hornsby, who was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the New York Giants for fellow future Hall of Fame second baseman Frankie Frisch and Jimmy Ring on Dec. 20, 1926; and Tom Seaver, who was dealt by the New York Mets to the Reds for four players on June 15, 1977.
Trades involving superstars are not limited to baseball.
In the NBA, the Lakers traded for Wilt Chamberlain, in 1968, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who joined the Lakers in 1975 after winning three MVP awards as a Milwaukee Buck; Charles Barkley was the league MVP and led the Phoenix Suns to the NBA finals in 1993, his first season after being traded from the Philadelphia 76ers; in the NFL, Eric Dickerson was dealt from the Rams to the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 31, 1987 in a three-team trade; and in the NHL, Wayne Gretzky was only 27 when he was traded to the Kings in 1988, after leading the Edmonton Oilers to their fourth Stanley Cup title.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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Major Baseball Trades
A chronological list of some blockbuster trades in the history of major league baseball:
* April 12, 1916--The Boston Red Sox trade Tris Speaker to the Cleveland Indians for Sad Sam Jones, Fred Thomas and $55,000.
* Jan. 3, 1920--The Boston Red Sox trade Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000 and a $300,000 loan to Boston owner Harry Frazee.
* Dec. 20, 1926--The New York Giants trade Frankie Frisch and Jimmy Ring to the St. Louis Cardinals for Rogers Hornsby.
* Dec. 12, 1933--The Philadelphia Athletics trade Lefty Grove, Rube Walberg and Max Bishop to the Boston Red Sox for Bob Kline, Rabbit Warstler and $125,000.
* Dec. 10, 1935--The Philadelphia Athletics trade Jimmie Foxx and Johnny Marcum to the Boston Red Sox for Gordon Rhodes, minor leaguer George Savino and $150,000.
* Dec. 11, 1941--The St. Louis Cardinals trade Johnny Mize to the New York Giants for Ken O'Dea, Bill Lohrman, Johnny McCarthy and $50,000.
* Dec. 9, 1965--The Cincinnati Reds trade Frank Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles for Milt Pappas, Jack Baldschun and Dick Simpson.
* April 2, 1976--The Oakland Athletics trade Reggie Jackson, Ken Holtzman and Bill Van Bommell to the Baltimore Orioles for Don Baylor, Mike Torrez and Paul Mitchell.
* June 15, 1977--The New York Mets trade Tom Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds for Pat Zachry, Steve Henderson, Doug Flynn and Dan Norman.
* Dec. 5, 1990--The Toronto Blue Jays trade Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez to the San Diego Padres for Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar.
* Aug. 31, 1992--The Oakland Athletics trade Jose Canseco to the Texas Rangers for Ruben Sierra, Bobby Witt, Jeff Russell and an undisclosed amount of money.
* July 31, 1997--The Oakland Athletics trade Mark McGwire to the St. Louis Cardinals for T.J Mathews, Eric Ludwick, and Blake Stein.
* May 15, 1998--The Florida Marlins trade Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Charles Johnson, Jim Eisenreich, and Manuel Barrios to the Dodgers for Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile.
* Feb. 18, 1999--The Toronto Blue Jays trade Roger Clemens to the New York Yankees for David Wells, Graeme Lloyd, and Homer Bush.
* Nov. 2, 1999--The Texas Rangers trade Juan Gonzalez, Danny Patterson, and Gregg Zaun to the Detroit Tigers for Justin Thompson, Alan Webb, Francisco Cordero, Gabe Kapler, Bill Haselman and Frank Catalanotto.