Everybody knows what happened next. Boston went 34-12 down the stretch, made a remarkable comeback in the American League Championship Series with the help of one of the most famous stolen bases in history by Roberts and went on to win the organization's first World Series in 86 years. They've since added two more trophies.
July 31, 1998: The Astros were already looking ahead to October when they sent Freddy Garcia, John Halama and Carlos Guillen to the Mariners for free-agent-to-be Randy Johnson. The Big Unit excelled, going 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA in 11 starts, helping Houston reach the playoffs.
Three years later, Garcia and Halama combined for 28 victories and Guillen was the everyday shortstop for a Mariners team that won 116 games.
July 29, 2011: The Phillies had a comfortable lead in the National League East but badly wanted a right-handed bat to balance their lineup. So they sent prospects Jarred Cosart, Jon Singleton, Josh Zeid and Domingo Santana to the Astros for Hunter Pence. The right fielder batted .324 with 11 homers and a .954 OPS, helping the Phillies win a franchise-record 102 games.
The Phillies subsequently traded Pence to the Giants. All four players the Astros got in return have appeared for them in the big leagues this year; Cosart is in the rotation and Singleton is the starting first baseman.
July 30, 2010: Sometimes deals become important only in retrospect. That was the case when the Nationals traded infield depth in Cristian Guzman to get Double-A pitcher Tanner Roark from the Rangers. Going into his Wednesday start against the Marlins, Roark is 17-7 with a 2.43 ERA since being called up last year and might just be the best pitcher on a staff that includes All-Stars Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.
July 31, 2008: Mannywood was established in Chavez Ravine when the Dodgers picked up Manny Ramirez as part of a three-team swap that also involved the Pirates. And the talented but erratic slugger put up ridiculous numbers the rest of the season, batting .396 with 17 homers, 53 RBIs and a 1.232 OPS in 53 games to help the Dodgers edge the D-backs in the NL West.
July 31, 2007: The Braves were in third place but only 4 1/2 games off the lead when they got first baseman Mark Teixeira from the Rangers to be the middle-of-the-order bat they were lacking. It didn't work out. The Braves played .500 ball the rest of the way, missed the playoffs and flipped Teixeira to the Angels the following July.
Texas, however, benefited tremendously. The Rangers got shortstop Elvis Andrus plus pitchers Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison, all players who helped the franchise make back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011.
July 29, 2010: After two straight World Series appearances, the Phillies were lagging until Roy Oswalt was acquired from the Astros for J.A. Happ, Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar. He proved to be just the spark the team needed, going 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in red pinstripes as the Phillies won their fourth straight NL East title going away.
Oswalt was unable to reprise that success as a member of the "Four Aces" rotation the following year as he battled injuries and departed as a free agent. Happ and Gose are now with the Blue Jays. Villar was the Astros' regular shortstop when the 2014 season opened but is now at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
July 31, 1997: Mark McGwire was scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season when the Athletics traded him to the Cardinals. A known quantity, McGwire exploded for two of the most prodigious power seasons in history in 1998 and 1999, bashing a then-record 70 homers his first year and following it up with 65 before suspicions of performance-enhancing substances surfaced.
On the same day, the White Sox sent pitchers Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin and Roberto Hernandez to the Giants for six Minor Leaguers. Because the Sox were only 3 1/2 games behind the Indians at the time, it was widely decried as "the White Flag Trade." However, two of the players Chicago received in return (Keith Foulke, Bob Howry) helped the team win the AL Central in 2000.
July 26, 2000: The D-backs gave up four solid players -- Vicente Padilla, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee and Omar Daal -- to get Curt Schilling from the Phillies. Schilling teamed up with Johnson to give Arizona a devastating 1-2 punch at the front end of the rotation and the D-backs rode that combination all the way to its only World Series title in 2001.