On This Day In Sports: February 25, 1972: Steve Carlton traded for Rick Wise

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.


  1. Those crazy owners….I didn’t get to know Carlton until around 77-78 and he was still great and the Phillies were also. The Cardinals haven’t made a lot of bad trades…but this was one of them.

    • Not only did this deal cost the Cardinals a couple division titles- it probably won a couple for the Phillies in the late 70’s. No Carlton and my Pirates would have won a couple more I believe.

    • He gave the Dodgers trouble also…I totally agree to that. The Phillies had a great team in the mid to late seventies. Greg Luzinski Mike, Bake McBride, Bowa…I know that lineup well…as you probably do also!

  2. I think I had that Rick Wise card (but not with the ‘traded’ stamp across it)! At the time, it probably looked like a fair trade, but like you point out, Philly really won that down the road. Phils were a great team in second-half of 70s… sadly I think I could name more of their lineup then than I could their 2021 team.

    • me too as far as naming the teams- i knew so much about all the players back then. i guess we had a lot more free time on our hands back then! I understandably hated those Phillies team being a Pirate fan–and especially Larry Bowa. Of course had he been a Pirate I’d have loved him.

Comments are closed.