Cub Manager Leo Durocher, who is trying to win a pennant, gave up on Adolfo Phillips and at the same time protected his infield against further injuries by trading the outfielder. In exchange, he received Paul Popovich, a sure-handed infielder who can play second, third, or short. The deal for Popovich, a one-time Cub who was nurtured in the Bruins’ farm system, was made with the Montreal Expos who also received Jack Lamabe, a minor league pitcher. Lamabe remained in the Pacific Coast League, simply being switched from Tacoma to Vancouver, a Montreal farm.
Adolfo, as was expected, took it hard. He was obviously disappointed, and hated to leave. Though often moody and sulking, he, nevertheless, was extremely popular with this teammates, mostly because of his warm and open personality. “I’m really sorry about it,” said catcher Randy Hundley, who over the years probably was Adolfo’s best friend. Then Hundley added: “I hope he does well. I know it’s tough on a ball player to be traded.” Phillips was told he had been traded after arriving in Atlanta Stadium for a night game with the Braves. As the news spread through the clubhouse, most of the players came over and shook Adolfo’s hand, wishing him well.
It was significant that Durocher, in an effort to wish Adolfo well, tried to shake Adolfo’s hand. But Adolfo turned away. “I don’t shake hands with him,” Adolfo later said. “He hurt me. I shake hands with all my teammates, but not with him. I can not have a good feeling toward that man.” There was an extreme personal conflict between Adolfo and Durocher that was obvious for some time. Phillips batted .311 in limited play this season for Chicago. Adolfo revealed that Durocher hadn’t spoken to him in three or four weeks before the trade, and said Durocher never explained why he took him out of the lineup on May 28 when the club was in San Francisco. Whatever the reason, Adolfo never made another start after that day.
As for Popovich, the Cub players, especially the veterans, were delighted to see him. Popo is a wonderful sort of teammate and, after all, grew up in the Cub system. He was the Cubs’ number 1 second base prospect before Glenn Beckert and also before the late Ken Hubbs, Beckert’s predecessor. He will immediately go into the starting lineup for the injured Beckert as Nate Oliver and Jimmy Qualls will return to the bench. Popo is also a good shortstop and probably was acquired with the additional thought that he could replace Don Kessinger, should anything happen to the Cubs’ all-star shortstop.