In baseball, a player is typically traded for one of two things: another player, or a prospect. It’s not usually teddy bears. Usually. But in 1989, the three-time All-Star pitcher Luis Tiant was traded for a whopping 500 teddy bears (as well as outfielder Ralph Garr). Here’s how the trade went down:
Luis Tiant and the Senior Professional Baseball Association
Luis Tiant was a starting pitcher in the MLB for 19 years, pitching primarily for the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox. During those 19 years, he was a three-time All-Star, a 20-game winner for four seasons, and he ended his MLB career with a 229-172 record. He retired in 1982, and 7 years later he joined the Senior Professional Baseball Association, a short-lived winter league for some of the MLB’s former stars.
Tiant entered the SFBA as a player for the Winter Haven Super Sox, but just before the season began, he was traded away to the Miami-based Gold Coast Suns for, you guessed it, 500 teddy bears and outfielder Ralph Garr. However, these weren’t just any ordinary teddy bears—they were Ruxpin bears, mechanical teddy bears that 80s kids will likely remember. If you put a cassette tape inside the bear, he would read to you, his eyes moving in a slightly disturbing fashion.
Why 500 Teddy Bears?
There were two reasons why a legendary pitcher was traded away for 500 Ruxpin bears. The first reason was because the Gold Coast Suns’ owner, Russell Berrie, was in the novelty-toy business. The second reason, and likely the main reason, was because the Suns wanted to use some of the bears as part of a giveaway to entice fans. However, it wasn’t particularly successful. The game drew fewer than 300 fans.
But what did Tiant think of the trade?
“It’s okay. I don’t mind. I just wanted to go closer to Miami.”
In that, it was 500 teddy bears well-spent.
We may not be able to offer you 500 teddy bears for your star pitcher, but we at The Zoo Factory have plenty of teddy bears for you to choose from, no baseball players required. Take a look through our inventory to find your new best friend today.