Happy Birthday, Ozzie Smith!
Ozzie Smith, one of the greatest defensive short stops in baseball history, celebrates his 58th birthday this week.
Oct 18, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals former player Ozzie Smith throws out the first pitch before game four of the 2012 NLCS between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants at Busch Stadium. Image Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
In 1978, while with the San Diego Padres, Smith made one of the greatest defensive plays in baseball history (Video) and appropriate, it was the #1 defensive play when the MLB Network aired a countdown of the 75 best defensive plays in baseball history.
For fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozzie Smith is iconic. True, he didn’t have the best relationship with former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa but that does not change the way that the Cardinal Nation feels about him.
Even for those of us that were too young to watch the home run that won Game 5 of the 1985 National League Championship Series, the call by Jack Back will be ingrained in our heads from the moment that we heard it. Buck told fans to go crazy and they did. They most definitely did.
The Wizard was a part of the Cardinals roster from after the 1981 season until his retirement following the 1996 NLCS against the Atlanta Braves. He set the golden standard for short stops with 8,375 career assists (1st place for short stops), second only to Rabbit Maranville for all positions played. He fielded 1,590 double plays. From 1980 to 1992, Smith would win the Gold Glove in the National League for the position. Smith’s 43.4 defensive wins above replacement rank 1st all-time.
Smith appeared in the All Star game from 1981 to 1992 and 1994 to 1996. Following his 1992 retirement, he would go on to be inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America in 2002.