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He was already the greatest left-handed strikeout artist in history, and only five right-handers had more K’s than the portly Lolich.

Campbell cannot be entirely faulted for trading The Mick when he did.

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“We’re tickled to death.” The date was December 12, 1975, a Friday. A bleary-eyed Jim Campbell, general manager of the Detroit Tigers, was talking about the team’s just-announced trade.

“We got the one thing we were looking for—a real sound RBI man.” That RBI man was none other than Daniel Joseph “Rusty” Staub.

After a 21-loss season, his salary was cut to ,000 in ’75. In announcing the trade, he tried to strike a balance between honoring the past and paving the way toward a better future. As a rookie in ’75, he batted only .221 in 30 games with Detroit.

New York, meanwhile, was also shipping Bill Laxton, 27, a left-handed reliever with a record of 0-3 and a 5.33 ERA in three seasons with the Phillies and Padres. By the baseball-card statistics of his day, he was coming off two sub-par seasons in which he’d gone 28-39 with a 3.99 ERA.

When he played in Montreal, he was known as “Le Grande Orange,” and endeared himself to Expos fans by learning to speak French and touring Canada to promote the team.In Staub, Detroit was getting a five-time All-Star who could rake with the best of them. Not your prototypical power hitter, he choked up high on the bat, which meant he usually made contact.He drove in 105 runs with the Mets in 1974, and hit .423 with a home run in the ’73 World Series.Long-distance phone calls (ask your parents, kids) between Campbell and Mets GM Joe Mc Donald produced a preliminary deal in the wee hours of the morning.Lolich, however, being a 10-year veteran, had the right to veto the deal.

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