Revisiting the Ken Oberkfell trade

Remember the Ken Oberkfell acquisition? Well, it's been 30 years since it happened. Bill Shanks takes a look back.

It was June 15, 1984. It was the trade deadline day in baseball. Yes, it was in June back then. They would change it a year later to the current date of July 31.

For some reason, I actually remember where I was when I learned of the big trade the Braves made that day. I am not sure why, but I do. I was in the Shoney's in Waycross, GA waiting to be seated. That's when the Braves' announcers came on and reported a trade with the Cardinals. Atlanta had dealt left-handed pitcher Ken Dayley and utility man Mike Jorgensen to St. Louis for third baseman Ken Oberkfell.

The Braves needed a third baseman with Bob Horner out for the season. He injured his wrist on May 30 in a game against the Cubs. It was the same injury that caused him to miss time in previous seasons. Replacing Horner was not going to be easy. He was a power hitter and the Braves didn't have many not named Dale Murphy. Oberkfell was available since the Cardinals wanted to bring up some young prospect named Terry Pendleton.
So the Braves got Oberkfell, who had no power. But he was a pretty good hitter. Oberkfell had hit .292 in his parts of eight years with St. Louis. He also had a .364 on base percentage.

Oberkfell struggled, however, when he came to Atlanta. For the rest of the 1984 season, he hit only .233 with a .289 OBP. He got better the next year, hitting .272. But Oberkfell's average in Atlanta was 21 points lower than what it had been with the Cardinals.

The Braves traded Oberkfell in 1988, when they were in the middle of their rebuilding process. They got young outfielder Tommy Gregg from the Pirates. Gregg did well as a bat off the bench for a couple of years.

As for the players traded by the Braves for Oberkfell, Dayley finally found success in St. Louis. He had been a disappointment in Atlanta. The Braves handed Dayley a spot in the 1984 rotation, but he had a 5.30 earned run average in four starts and was sent back to Triple-A Richmond.

The Cardinals had Dayley in the minors for most of the 1984 season, but in 1985 he got a job in the St. Louis bullpen and flourished. He would never start another game in his career, and for the next seven seasons Dayley became one of the top lefty relievers in the National League.

Before the 1991 season, Dayley signed a big money contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. But like Nick Esasky the year before with Atlanta, Dayley experienced a severe case of vertigo. He pitched only 10 games with the Blue Jays. Dayley's vertigo was so bad he later had surgery to relieve the symptoms.

Jorgensen, who was with Atlanta for about a calendar year as a main pinch-hitter, played another season and a half with the Cardinals after the trade. He then retired and joined the St. Louis front office. Jorgensen was a minor league manager and then took over as the major league skipper after Joe Torre was fired in June of 1995. Jorgensen then spent many years as the Cardinals' farm director. He is still with the organization as a special assistant to the general manager. The Dayley/Jorgensen-for-Oberkfell deal was not a blockbuster, but it's worth noting for those of us who remember that it's been a full 30 years since the deal was made.

Listen to "The Bill Shanks Show" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at Follow Bill at and e-mail him at

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