Mets Trade History: The 1962 deal bringing Pumpsie Green to New York
By Judy Kamilhor
In the early days of the New York Mets, few trades had as much of an off-field impact as the 1962 deal which brought Pumpsie Green to New York.
On December 11, 1962, Pumpsie Green was traded by the Boston Red Sox with a player to be named later and Tracy Stallard to the New York Mets for Felix Mantilla. The Red Sox later sent Al Moran (January 14, 1963) to the Mets to complete the trade.
Mantilla played third base, shortstop, and second base for the 1962 Mets, starting 88 games at 3B, and providing adequate offense (.275/.330/.399/.729) at least compared to the rest of the team. It was his first and only season on the Mets before the trade with the Red Sox.
Given that the Mets traded Mantilla for three players, it is clear that he was the centerpiece of the deal. His performance improved greatly with the Boston Red Sox for the next three seasons, with a slash line of .287/.369/.474/.843 over 1,297 plate appearances. He became a super utility player for the Red Sox, playing all infield and outfield positions over the next three seasons.
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The Mets return of RHP Tracy Stallard, SS Al Moran, and IF Elijah Pumpsie Green was notable on the field and off.
Green was the Mets best offensive player overall in 1963 with a slash line of .278/.409/.426/.835 in just 66 plate appearances. Although he played only shortstop and second base for the Red Sox, he played only third base in 1963 for the Mets, his last year in the major leagues.
While he excelled in his brief time with the Mets, he was mostly known for being the first African-American player to play for the Red Sox. The Red Sox were the last team to integrate their roster in 1959.
“He was 13 when Jackie Robinson broke into the major leagues in 1947, but Brooklyn was a long way from California. The Pacific Coast League integrated in 1948, and, to top it off, the barnstorming Jackie Robinson All-Stars came to Oakland after the ’48 season was over. Pumpsie said, ‘I scraped up every nickel and dime together I could find. And I was there. I had to see that game…I still remember how exciting it was,'” from his SABR Biography by Bill Nowlin.
More from Nowlin’s biography of Green: “By college, Pumpsie’s favorite player was Lorenzo ‘Piper’ Davis, an outfielder/infielder for the Oaks (1951-55). Davis had himself been the first black prospect signed by the Boston Red Sox, back in 1950, but been let go without reaching the major leagues, just before the Sox would have had to pay the second part of his bonus.”
“Actions can speak louder than words, and Ted Williams stood head and shoulders above the rest of the ballclub in star power. He set the tone from the beginning, not speaking out but clearly signaling his acceptance of Pumpsie, who became his throwing partner before games. ‘He asked me to warm up with him the first day I came here, and I’ve been warming up with him ever since.’ He told Herb Crehan, ‘He didn’t say anything beyond the invitation to play catch, and it surprised me a little bit. But I understood and appreciated the gesture.'”
The entire SABR bio is filled with obstacles due to Green’s skin color, such as not being allowed to stay in team hotels and racist abuse from coaches and fans. It makes me wonder if he would have had a different career if he had been allowed to just play like the white players on his teams.
Tracy Stallard is famous for allowing Roger Maris‘s 61st homer in 1961, as well as starting for the Mets in Jim Bunning‘s perfect game in 1964, according to this New York Times obituary.
Al Moran played for the Mets in 1963-64, totaling 120 starts at shortstop and finishing his major league career with a .195 batting average and .951 fielding percentage.
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The Mets got the history and the Red Sox ended up with the best player. Probably not the last time that will happen.