May 1, 2020

Remembering Mets History (1962): Harry Chiti Becomes the First Player to Be Traded For Himself

April 28th - June 15th 1962: In the early days of Mets history, there were many strange stories, some true, some grew as legend through history. One true story that came out of the Mets first month of baseball, was the strange case of Harry Chiti.

Chiti, a catcher, was traded to the Cleveland Indians before the 1962 season. In late April, his contract was sold to the expansion New York Mets, for a player to be named later. Two days later, he was inserted in the lineup as a late inning replacement and struck out in his only at bat. In May he would hit safely in seven of eight games as a Met, but his success was short lived. Chiti played in 15 games as a Met, batting .195 (8-43).

In late June, the Mets sold him back to Cleveland as the player to be named later. He officially was known as the first player who was traded for himself!

The Italian / American, Harry Chiti was born on November 16, 1932 in Kincaid, Illinois. Chiti was a fine defensive catcher whose specialty was catching the knuckle ball.

The six foot two catcher was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1950 & played there briefly for three seasons as a backup catcher. He then served two years in the military during the Korean War. 

In 1955 he became the Cubs main catcher, defensively leading the league in assists (17) passed balls & stolen bases allowed (48). At the plate he had a career high 11 HRs with 41 RBIs posting a .231 batting average in 113 games played. The following year he lost his job to future Met, Hobie Landrith & was traded to the AL New York club for Charlie Silvera.

Chiti was drafted away by the Kansas City A's in 1958 & played there for three seasons, moving on to Detroit & then Cleveland, before going to the Mets.

Chiti played two more seasons in the minor leagues before retiring from baseball at age 30. He finished his ten year career batting .238 with 356 hits 41 HRs 49 doubles 9 triples & 179 RBIs in 502 games played. 

Behind the plate he threw out 38% of would be base stealers while allowing 64 passed balls with 77 wild pitches coming his way, posting a .983 fielding %.

Retirement: After baseball he worked for Columbia Pictures placing films in movie theaters. He then served as a bailiff in a Shelby County, Tennessee Courthouse. 

He retired from working in Winter Haven Florida, passing in 2002. 

No comments: