Santa Claus: Baseball's Eternal Vagabond

Santa Claus, back in his days with the Mets

Presenting the Illustrated Santa Claus Transaction Log ...

When your main focus is on your other job and you never bother to get in shape, you're not going to stay in one place very long. No matter how jovial you are in the clubhouse or how generous you are with your teammates or how many positions you can play or how ageless you appear, a ball club is invariably going to go with someone younger, leaner and more driven, and you'll be sent packing.

With that in mind, what follows is an illustrated sampling of the transaction section of Santa Claus's page at

March 2, 1907: Signed by Detroit Tigers

"It was Claus's misfortune to come looking for a job in an outfield patrolled by Mssrs. Cobb, Crawford and Jones."
- Fred Lieb


May 11, 1907: Released by Detroit Tigers

November 21, 1922: Signed by New York Giants

"Claus had a hard time playing for John McGraw, whom he had put on his infamous "Naughty List" for 46 consecutive Christmases."
- item in The Sporting News


June 1, 1923: Released by New York Giants

May 1, 1935: Signed by Boston Braves

"Having Claus and Babe Ruth on the same team was not a good idea. They'd get a table at the lobster house, and four hours later there wasn't a live crustacean left in the place."
- Rabbit Maranville, teammate


December 11, 1935: Sold by Boston Braves to Brooklyn Dodgers

"He and Blimp Phelps would get into these rasslin' matches in the clubhouse. Talk about your heavyweight bouts. (Manager) Casey Stengel would look the other way if we'd won, but he'd turn a hose on ‘em after a loss."
- Van Mungo, teammate


May 7, 1936: Released by Brooklyn Dodgers

January 15, 1940: Signed by Chicago White Sox

"Mobility was his Waterloo..."
- a report in the Chicago Sun


April 30, 1941: Released by Chicago White Sox

December 14, 1954: Signed by Boston Red Sox

"Perhaps the most unlikely friendship in baseball is that which exists between Bosox outfielders Santa Claus and Ted Williams. They are both pilots, though, so perhaps the pairing isn't as star-crossed as it would first appear."
- SPORT Magazine


July 11, 1957: Released by Boston Red Sox

February 16, 1966: Signed by New York Mets

"Quick release. Plus curve. Limited windup. Tires easily. Use sparingly."
- Team scouting report


June 13, 1967: Released by New York Mets

September 10, 1974: Signed by Philadelphia Phillies

"Everything was fine until they put Claus in charge of the team's kangaroo court. What had previously been a fun diversion turned into a draconian inquisition of naughty-or-nice absolutes. Team chemistry was at stake, so Claus was shown the door."
- 1977 Official Baseball Guide


June 14, 1976: Released by Philadelphia Phillies

May 11, 1982: Signed by Kansas City Royals

"During home stands, he would spend his off hours in whatever barbecue joint was handy. On road trips, he was known to run through his daily per diem at breakfast."
- item in The Kansas City Star


August 24, 1982: Released by Kansas City Royals

January 31, 1990: Signed by New York Yankees

"Spokesmen for both parties agreed that the main issue was the player's refusal to adhere to the team's facial-hair ban."
- report in The New York Times


March 28, 1990: Released by New York Yankees

November 17, 1992: Selected by Florida Marlins in Expansion Draft

"I don't think it was the heat that slowed him down. But the humidity? That was another story."
- Rene Lachemann, Marlins manager


June 14, 1993: Released by Florida Marlins

July 15, 1997: Signed by Arizona Diamondbacks

"Sometimes a veteran is grateful for any opportunity, other times I think a new team is a bad fit for them because they want to win now and they just don't have the patience to go through the growing pains."
- Buck Showalter, Diamondbacks manager


May 1, 1998: Sold by the Arizona Diamondbacks to St. Louis Cardinals

"It was supposed to be a one-two punch power show with him from the left side and Mark McGwire from the right, but they got into a home run hitting contest during BP one day in Philly and Claus tore the hell out of his back. Oh man, was Tony (La Russa) ever ticked off."
- Royce Clayton, teammate


February 2, 2000: Granted free agency by St. Louis Cardinals

November 14, 2004: Signed by Chicago Cubs

"Dusty Baker's well-known predilection for veteran ballplayers was taken to its absurdly logical conclusion with the addition of Santa Claus."
- Baseball Prospectus


June 11, 2005: Sold by Chicago Cubs to Houston Astros

"After spending some time on the DL, Claus rehabbed and came back in the best shape of his life. But he was going through a thing, you know? A personal thing. His wife ... umm ... I've probably said too much."
- a source close to the team


May 4, 2006: Released by Houston Astros

January 6, 2010: Signed by Minnesota Twins

"The Twins' thinking was that playing closer to home would be just what the big guy needed to have a breakout season, but he came to spring training looking like he'd stopped at every Waffle House between the North Pole and Fort Myers. And he didn't exactly over-exert himself in camp, either."
- La Velle E. Neal III, Minneapolis Star-Tribune


March 21, 2010: Released by Minnesota Twins

Jim Baker's latest book is The Most Memorable Games in Patriots History. You can follow him on Twitter @jimbaker1066.

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