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Overall, a reasonable Cubs trade gamble

This is Orval Overall we’re talking about, in another deal made more than a century ago.

Orval Overall with the Reds, just prior to being traded to the Cubs
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June 2, 1906

The Cubs have sent veteran hurler Bob Wicker to the Cincinnati Reds for Orval Overall. The Cubs also added a rather hefty $2,000 fee in the process. While Wicker is the more known quantity, Overall is a developing talent.

Last season, the rookie Overall tossed 318 innings for Cincinnati, firing 32 complete games. This season, his numbers and success have been diminished. (I wonder if there's any correlation.) Coming to the Cubs, one presumes Overall can get the fourth starter innings, or get bullpen work with Carl Lundgren getting some of the lower stress innings. With the team's game and a half lead in the standings, it's a bit of a hope that fewer innings for Overall lead to better innings.

As to the money, I'm sure you've heard the cynicism. Hopefully, it get re-invested into the team. I'm not sure what more the team needs, but they seem on the cusp of a special season.


I was surprised how long it took for the 1906 Cubs to lose their closest competitors, the Giants and the Pirates. Adding Overall helped. He is about as under-rated as any post-season Cubs performer. His regular season kick wasn't bad, either. After arriving with a 4.26 ERA, he went almost Rick Sutcliffe, going 12-3 with a 1.88 ERA after the trade. That was good for a 141 ERA+ post-trade. He backed that up with a 149, a 123, and a 179 ERA plus in the Cubs down year of 1909. He "stumbled" to a 12-6 and 2.68 (107 ERA+). By then, his arm was largely played out. His 1.58 ERA in post-season action was more impressive before a "3 runs in 3 innings" outing in 1910. His 51⅓ innings put him on the very short list among Cubs hurlers. He went 3-1.

Overall ran a gold mine, for awhile, with Three-Finger Brown, and would eventually run for Congress in his native California. While a Cub, he regularly received opening day assignments. In his peak year of 1909, he recorded an OPS+ of 101. He hit better that year than the average hitter.

Among the cool parts of this series for me is learning stories about past Cubs stars. Many of them were interesting on, or off, the field. For instance, one of the reasons the Cubs were keenly interested in Overall was that Frank Chance (Cubs first baseman and eventual manager) knew his ability from California. The Cubs lost a bidding war to sign him. The pitcher they sent for Overall? Bob Wicker? His last MLB season was 1906. Some consider this the worst Reds trade until the Frank Robinson mistake.

In early July, the Cubs would reacquire former staff ace Jack Taylor from St. Louis. Taylor's Cubs ERA in 1906 was 1.83 after being added for reliever Fred Beebe and reserve catcher/first baseman Jack Noonan. My next trade article will be more current. It might, though, involve a post-season chase.