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


April 26th - June 15th, 1962: In the early days of Mets history, there were many strange stories, some true, some exaggerated. One very true story that came out of the Mets first month of baseball in 1962, was the strange case of Harry Chiti.

Harry Chiti was a nine year veteran, he was traded from the Detroit Tigers to the Cleveland Indians before the start of 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 Mets bat. 

In May, he would hit safely in seven of eight games in a
Mets uniform. But his success was short lived, Chiti played in 15 Mets games, batting .195 (8-43).

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

Harry Chiti was born on November 16th, 1932 in Kincaid, Illinois. The six foot, two Italian American catcher, was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1950. He was known as a fine defensive catcher, whose specialty would be handling the knuckleball.
He debuted at age 17, playing briefly for three seasons with the Cubs, as a backup catcher. He then served two years in the military during the Korean War. 

In 1955 he returned, 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. He did not play in any games for them.

Chiti was soon drafted away by the Kansas City A's in 1958. He played there for three seasons, seeing the most action in 1958, playing in 103 games. In 1959, he hit .272, but played in just 55 games.

 In 1960 he started the year in Kansas City & had his contract bought by the Detroit Tigers.  He finished out the year there & started 1961 there as well. He would get traded to the Baltimore Orioles in July & then to the Cleveland Indians in November.

Mets Career: On April 26th, 1962, Chiti had his contract purchased by the New York Mets. He made his Mets debut on April 28th, coming into a 8-6 Mets win against the Phillies. 

On May 5th, he came into the game as a late inning defensive replacement. He came to bat in the top of the 9th inning, with a runner on second, two outs & the Mets down 2-1 at Philadelphia. Chiti singled to left field, but Hot Rod Kanehl was thrown out at the plate by Johnny Callison to end the game. 

As mentioned, he hit safely in seven of his next eight games, highlighted by a two-hit game against his old Cubs team mates on May 16th. He scored a run, as the Mets won it with an 11th inning walk off single by Felix Mantilla. On May 30th, he struck out three times against Sandy Koufax, as Koufax struck out ten allowing six runs, but beat the Mets 13-6.

Chiti's final game was on June 10th, as he went hitless (0-4) in a 2-1 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He then made history getting traded back to Cleveland.

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 & relocated to Haines City, Florida where he passed away in 2002 at age 69. 

Family: Harry & his wife Catharine had two children & eight grandchildren

Dom Chiti: His son Dom Chiti was a minor league pitching prospect whose career was ruined by
arm issues. He then became a long time scout & pitching coach, mainly in the Texas Rangers organization. 

In 2006, he became Ron Washington's bull pen coach with the Texas Rangers. He then moved on to the Atlanta Braves as assistant to the GM. In 2013 he became the Baltimore Orioles bull pen coach until 2019, when he rejoined the Braves as director of Player Development

In 2021 he moved on to the Los Angeles Angels as their bullpen coach.

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