One of the big trades in the baseball off-season of 1971-72 was the Steve Carlton- Rick Wise trade. Steve Carlton had worn out his welcome with Cardinals owner ‘Gussie’ Busch- after winning 20 games in 1971- Carlton wanted a raise to $65,000– Busch offered $50,000- and then upped it to $60,000 but Carlton wouldn’t budge. A pissed off Busch ordered GM Bing Devine to offer Carlton to the Phillies- who were having similar contract issues with their star pitcher Rick Wise. Devine stalled and stalled but eventually Busch insisted- and when Devine called Philadelphia- they were quick to accept the deal. Both of these pitchers were stars. While Carlton had the better overall career up to this point- he also had been pitching for a far better team in St. Louis. In 1971 Wise with a lousy Philadelphia team won 17 games and a year before not only pitched a no-hitter but hit two home runs in that game. He was also a yea younger. The thought by many in baseball when the deal was made- with a better team in St.Louis- Wise would be even more successful. At the time of the trade- the baseball world was divided on who got the best of the deal. While on past performance you’d have to say Carlton was the better pitcher but- it wasn’t viewed as a terrible trade by any means at the time of the deal.
We know how this trade turned out- totally one sided for the Phillies. Steve Carlton went from a star pitcher to a superstar Hall of Famer in Philadelphia- winning four Cy Young Awards as a member of the Phillies. He would in 1972 his first year with the Phillies have one of the greatest seasons any pitcher has ever had- winning 27 games with a 1.97- leading the league in both categories- and winning the Cy Young Award– for a team that won only 59 games.
Rick Wise in St. Louis won 16 games in the two seasons he pitched for the Cardinals. He was a good pitcher for the Cardinals -he made the All-Star team his second season but was traded to the Boston Red Sox after the 1973 season.
This trade had a big impact on the fortunes of both teams in the 1970’s- the Phillies who were terrible in the early part of the decade- slowly became a power in the National League- winning the National League East every year from 1976-80- except for 1979- and winning their first ever World Series in 1980. Steve Carlton was their ace and the best pitcher in the league -and the best left handed pitcher in the game during that period. The Cardinals had they kept Carlton-finished in second place in 1973 and 1974 only 1 1/2 games out of first place each year- with Lefty Carlton no doubt they win the division both seasons.
Final Verdict- This was the best trade in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies- and the worst trade in St. Louis Cardinals history.