Redbird Rants sends their very best birthday wishes to Ozzie Smith, the greatest defensive shortstop ever, on his 59th birthday today. I had the chance to talk to the Wizard on May 1, 2013, as he was promoting his particpation in the Pepsi MAX Field of Dreams Game later that month.
For St. Louis Cardinals fans, it’s hard to imagine that the Cardinals would have been able to compete in not one, not two, but three World Series in the 1980s without his show-stopping defensive capabilities.
Following a 19-season career that started in 1978 and ended following the Cards’ loss to the Atlanta Braves in the 1996 National League Championship Series, the shortstop was elected by the BBWAA as player in 2002. His name appeared on 433 of 472 ballots for 91.7% of the vote.
Never one to hit for power, the Wizard’s greatest home run came in Game 5 of the 1985 NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers when he hit from the left side of the plate, where he had never launched a home run before. The ball would end up in the stands in a 3-2 win in a walk-off by the Wizard. Jack Clark‘s home run in Game 6 would secure the Cardinals’ spot in the 1985 World Series against the Kansas City Royals but nobody would ever forget the “Go Crazy, Folks” call from longtime Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck.
Take some time today and tweet your best wishes to Ozzie on Twitter.