Sunday, April 21, 2013

The First Internet Trade in CFCL History

On this date 18 years ago, the CFCL took a huge leap forward. A leap not only in to the future, but into cyberspace. On April 21, 1995 the CFCL’s first trade discussed and agreed upon via e-mail was completed.

It’s hard to believe now, but for the first 10+ years of CFCL competition, every trade negotiation was conducted either face-to-face or by telephone (and I’m talking land line). By 1995, the owners of David’s Copperfields and David’s Ruffins had both gotten online, and it didn’t take long for them to put that electronic connection to use for CFCL business.

And what momentous, game-changing deal was the first to be consummated electronically? Hold onto yer hat:
COPPERFIELDS trade Brad Ausmus and their 13th and 14th round Rotation Draft picks in 1995 to RUFFINS for their 4th and 5th round Rotation Draft picks in 1995.
You’d never believe it, but that little transaction took 11 e-mails over the course of three days to finalize. Luckily, I have the full transcript of the negotiations to prove it. Gluttons for punishment can follow the link at the end of this post to read all the details (and the marvelous asides and witticisms of the Ruffin and Copperfield ownership), but here are the highlights.

First a little context … despite being late April, this trade happened during the 1995 pre-season. A lockout by the MLB owners had delayed spring training and the start of the season by several weeks so by the time April 19 rolled around, CFCL teams were still tinkering with their rosters prior to making their pre-season roster cuts.

In addition to being the owner of David’s Copperfields, I was League Secretary and it was in that role that I started exchanging e-mails with the owner of David’s Ruffins. The Ruffins’ owner had moved out of state and I was trying a few test e-mails to see if I could send him the stat & standings reports electronically rather than via snail mail.
The Ruffins’s owner relayed the result of the latest test in an e-mail he titled “A Failed Test”, but the PS in his note proved to be the opening salvo in the CFCL Trade Heard ‘Round The Internet:
A Failed Test

P.S. Well, we might as well use this thing for some real business. Any interest on your part in the Padres’ new starting left fielder Mel Nieves? Let me know, I’m in the market for a cheap catcher or draft pick. Say “hey” to Goober for me.
The Copperfields replied that their outfield was full and they’d have no use for Nieves, but would be willing to part with Brad Ausmus (.04) to fulfill the Ruffins’ request for a cheap catcher, suggesting they receive a draft pick or two in return. That provided the general structure for the deal that was finally made, but getting to that final agreement took considerable negotiation.

Various combinations of draft picks were tossed around in the following nine e-mails, with some interesting accompanying commentary, but reading the transcripts 18 years later, the thing that I find most interesting is the colorful subject lines we chose for our messages. Some of the highlights:
RUFFINS to COPPERFIELDS: Brad “the animal” Ausmus
COPPERFIELDS to RUFFINS: OK, he’s not Johnny Bench, but…
RUFFINS to COPPERFIELDS: He ain’t Tim Hosey either…
RUFFINS to COPPERFIELDS: Smelling Brad Ausmus
COPPERFIELDS to RUFFINS: I smell the blood of a San Diego catcher…
RUFFINS to COPPERFIELDS: 4 cent catcher, thy name is…
COPPERFIELDS to RUFFINS: Rupert Jones, My Hero
RUFFINS to COPPERFIELDS: The four M’s of the apocalypse redux
With teasers like those, how could you not want more? Never fear, simply click the link below to read the full transcript of the First Internet Trade in CFCL History:

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