Heinie Manush played five seasons in Detroit and won a batting title. However, his average dropped 80 points between 1926 and 1927 and the Tiger management panicked. Despite hitting .298, they shipped Manush and Lu Blue to St Louis for three players. Manush went on to have a Hall of Fame career while Detroit received two mediocre players and a short-term fix in the outfield.
The Alabama native, Heinie Manush, joined the Detroit Tigers in 1923 and hit .334 in his rookie campaign. Afterward, he hit .289, .302. .378, and .298. Manush’s .378 in 1926 topped the American League. Ty Cobb worked with the young outfielder and helped him find his stroke. Cobb left Detroit after the 1926 season and Manush’s average fell by 80 points.
Rather than stick with a former batting champion, Detroit decided to trade Manush. They packed the outfielder with first baseman Lu Blue and shipped the pair to the Browns. In return, the Tigers received Harry Rice, Chick Galloway, and Elam Vangilder. It was one of the worst deals in Tiger history.
Harry Rice played two seasons plus 37 games with the Tigers. In his tenure, he hit over .300, with 14 home runs, drove in 174 runs, stole 26 bases, scored 200 runs, and posted modest OBP and slugging numbers. Rice essentially replaced Manush’s 1927 production and extended it to May 1930. Detroit traded him to the Yankees for Mark Koenig and Waite Hoyt. Neither player lasted long in the Motor City.
While Rice performed well for a short period, the other two players proved busts. Vangilder played one full season with the Tigers and finished 11-11. He never played in Detroit or the majors after 1929. Galloway played 53 games in 1928, hit .264, and never played in the major leagues again.
In the end, St. Louis robbed Detroit. Although Blue only played three seasons with the Browns, essentially cancelling out Rice, Manush returned to his 1926 form. In 1928, he hit .378 and led the league in hits and doubles. He hit .355 the following season and then the hapless Browns traded him to Washington. From 1930-1937, he hit over .340 on four occasions and .333 or better six times. He retired from the majors in 1939 with a .330 career batting average.
The Tigers made one of the worst trades in their history in 1927. They traded future Hall of Famer Heinie Manush for Harry Rice and a pair of players on their last legs. Rice performed well for a short period while Manush became a .330 career hitter. The Manush trade is an example of a team giving up and panicking after a younger player has a drop off in production. Had the Tigers been patient, Manush would have been a potent weapon for Detroit in the 1930s.