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Playing for Four Teams in One Year

Posted by Raphy on January 22, 2008

Whenever there is a trade rumor about a player, the media is always quick to ask if the talks bother him. Certainly, when a player is traded more than once, the questions arise if he feels unwanted. What then, would you ask a player who played on four different teams in the same season? It seems almost painful to imagine. Yet, there are ten players since 1901 to have accomplished this dubious feat.

Four years ago, Jose Bautista had a whirlwind of a season. Having played his entire career in the Pirates organization, Bautista was selected by the Orioles as the sixth pick (and fifth Pirate) of the 2003 Rule 5 draft. Bautista played in 16 games for the Orioles, who then put him on waivers. Tampa Bay took him off waivers, let him play another 12 games and then sold him to the Royals. A month later the Royals traded him to the Mets, who immediately traded him to Pittsburgh, where it had all started. Bautista never played from the Mets, so he only played for four teams. Nevertheless, he still became the only player ever to play for four teams in his first big-league season. Fortunately for Bautista, his career has stabilized and he is still on the Pirates today.

Here is the complete list of players since 1901 to have played for 4 teams in one year.

Player Year
Jose Bautista 2004
Dan Miceli 2003
Dave Martinez 2000
Dave Kingman 1977
Mike Kilkenny 1972
Wes Covington 1961
Ted Gray 1955
Paul Lehner 1951
Willis Hudlin 1940
Frank Huelsman 1904

17 Responses to “Playing for Four Teams in One Year”

  1. Andy Says:

    How did you come up with the list, Raphy?

  2. Raphy Says:

    Basically I did 24 quick searches.
    If you go to the "Batting Season Finder" page, there is an option to sort for "Franchises Played For". Unfortunately, this sort only works for the career/multiple season option and not the single season one. However, even if you select the career option, you can limit the search to a single season by choosing the season number of a player's career (for example "First to First"). Then all you have to do is 24 separate searches, one for each career season and you have your list. If you use multiple windows for concurrent searches, this doesn't take as long as it sounds.

    If anyone knows of an easier way, please let me know.

  3. wboenig2 Says:

    Dave Kingman managed to cover all four divisions in his nomadic year (Mets, Padres, Angels, Yankees)

  4. Mike Minetti Says:

    I always think of Kingman as a Cub, and was surprised to see he played less than 18% of his games for them. Every time I see his name I'm reminded of the famous Tommy Lasorda rant from 1978 after Dave beat the Dodgers with three dingers:

    Uncensored transcript of Tommy Lasorda's infamous response to reporter Paul Olden's seemingly innocuous question, "What's your opinion of Kingman's performance?"

    "What's my opinion of Kingman's performance? What the fuck do you think is my opinion of it? I think it was fucking horseshit! Put that in, I don't fucking—opinion of his performance? Jesus Christ, he beat us with three fucking home runs! What the fuck do you mean what is my opinion of his performance? How can you ask me a question like that, what is my opinion of his performance? Jesus Christ, he hit three home runs! Jesus Christ! I'm fucking pissed off to lose the fucking game, and you ask me my opinion of his performance? Jesus Christ! That's a tough question to ask me, isn't it? What is my opinion of his performance?...Well, I didn't give you a good answer because I'm mad, but I mean, that's a tough question to ask me right now, what is my opinion of his performance? I mean, you want me to tell you what my opinion of his performance is....That's right! Jesus Christ! Guy hits three home runs against us. Shit, I mean I don't want to, I don't mean to get pissed off or anything like that but, you know, you ask me my opinion. I mean, he put on a hell of a show, he hit three home runs, he drove in, what, seven runs?...Eight runs! So what the hell more can you say about it? I didn't mean to get mad or anything like that but god damn, you ask me my opinion of his performance."

  5. Mike Minetti Says:

    Here's the boxscore for #4 above. Two out, two run HR in the ninth to tie & a 3 run shot in the 15th had Tommy's Dodger Blue blood boiling!

  6. Andy Says:

    To hear Lasorda's rant, plus a bunch of others, click here:

    PLEASE BE ADVISED: this is uncensored and NSFW.

    I'd prefer not to see profanity in print on the site here, though I'll give Mike a pass since he certainly wasn't cursing at any other reader.

  7. Mike Minetti Says:

    Sorry Andy. I will respect your wishes in the future. Thanks for the link.

  8. Andy Says:

    No worries, Mike. I am particularly sensitive to readers calling each other names or using profanity directed at each other--obviously what you wrote was in a very different spirit. (And, Sean would have the actual say on such matters...)

  9. kingturtle Says:

    I remember Kingman doing this. I believe he's the only one to hit a dinger for each of the four fact, he hit at least two dingers for each team.

    Along the same lines but different, did you know that Valmy Thomas played for five different home cities in his five year career? The New York Giants (1957), the San Francisco Giants (1958), the Philadelphia Phillies (1959), the Baltimore Orioles (1960), and the Cleveland Indians (1961). I don't know if there's any value to it, but I bet he's the only one to do that 🙂

  10. Raphy Says:

    Kingturtle, I don't know if he's the only one to do it and retire, but there have been 72 players who have played on 5 or more teams in the first 5 years of their career.
    Valmy isn't even included because he played for only 4 franchises.

  11. kingturtle Says:

    wow! that's so cool!

  12. Raphy Says:

    Here's your man:
    Dick Littlefield played on 9 franchises in his 9 year career.

  13. Raphy Says:

    Please not that these lists only include batters. Pitchers who didn't bat are not included. I don't think that there is a "Franchises played for" option in the pitching PI.

  14. David in Toledo Says:

    I may be reading his page wrong, but it looks to me as if Littlefield played on 10 franchises in 9 years.

  15. Raphy Says:

    David, you are correct. However, since there is no franchise count in the Pitching Season PI, it only counts franchises that he batted for. In 1958 Littlefield pitched for Milwaukee without coming to the plate. Therefore PI only had him with 9 franchises. The true count is 10.

  16. BunnyWrangler Says:

    I'm only counting 9. Does his moving from St. Louis to Baltimore with the Browns/Orioles count as playing for two franchises?

  17. Raphy Says:

    BunnyWrangler- you're right and I'm wrong.
    PI does include his Milwaukee stint in the total.(Franchises are listed at the end of the line)
    Nice catch.