On April 10, 1982, the Twins traded 1979 All-Star Roy Smalley and 1975 Alexandria graduate Gary Serum to the Yankees for Ron Davis, Paul Boris, Greg Gagne, and $400,000 of Mr. Steinbrenner’s cold hard cash.
Davis, who had been an All-Star in 1981, was one of the game’s first setup men, combining for a potent 1-2 punch with Hall of Famer Goose Gossage. Davis still holds the Yankees record for consecutive strikeouts in a game with eight on May 4, 1981.
The Tigers’ Doug Fister established a new American League record with nine consecutive K’s on September 27, 2012. The major league record belongs to Tom Seaver with 10 straight on April 22, 1970.
Davis was never in All-Star form in Minnesota, however. He tied a single-season record with 14 blown saves in 1984, a dubious feat not matched since.
Four pitchers had blown 14 saves in a season prior to Davis, including Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers in 1976, and Bruce Sutter in 1978. Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, incidentally, holds the record with six seasons with 10+ blown saves, followed by Rollie Fingers and Jeff Reardon with four each.
Davis’s incompetence as Twins closer is often overstated, but there’s no denying that his struggles took a mental toll on the team. When he was traded to the Cubs in August 1986, a party broke out on the team’s charter flight from Anaheim to Seattle, led by Kirby Puckett. Kent Hrbek said it was like the team had been exorcised of a demon. Hrbie conceded in retrospect that the team didn’t handle the situation too well. He personally really liked Davis. Harmon Killebrew, who was on the flight as a TV analyst, said it was one of the strangest scenes he’d ever seen.
Though Davis was the object of the Twins’ desire at the time, Greg Gagne would obviously emerge as the key figure in this transaction. He didn’t make his major league debut until 1983, and even then only played 12 games between the ‘83 and ‘84 seasons before becoming a fixture at shortstop from 1985 to 1992. He was a key component of the Twins’ 1987 and 1991 World Series Championships.
The Twins had originally acquired Roy Smalley in the 1976 trade that sent Bert Blyleven and Danny Thompson to the Rangers.
In July 1984, the Yankees offloaded Smalley to the White Sox in exchange for players to be named later, one of whom wound up being Doug Drabek, who, after just one season, the Yankees in turn shipped off to Pittsburgh where he would win the 1990 Cy Young Award. The White Sox traded Smalley back to Minnesota in 1985. He retired after the 1987 season.
Gary Serum was born in Fargo, and grew up in Alexandria, MN. He played two and a half major league seasons with the Twins from 1977 to ‘79. Despite posting a 9-1 record between Double-A and Triple-A in the Yankees organization, 1982 was Serum’s final professional season. Today, he is the proprietor of “Serum’s Good Time Emporium” in Anoka.