|OZZIE NEVER HOMERS FROM THE LEFT SIDE.|
|CRAZY-GLUE GOOD WITH THE GLOVE.|
DEFINING THE PLAYER
- Twenty-eight cards in and we have our first Hall of Famer: Osborne Earl Smith, also known as Ozzie Smith and better known as The Wizard of Oz. He earned induction in 2002, his first year of eligibility, based on an ability to make routine and spectacular plays at shortstop. Stats do not measure his worth. You had to see him play his position and work at it in practice to fully appreciate him. If you did see Ozzie in the field, you saw a once-in-a-generation talent.
- "Go crazy, folks, go crazy! It's a home run!'' Can there be any other? Smith's ninth-inning drive down the right-field line off Dodgers closer Tom Niedenfuer in Game 5 of the 1985 National League Championship Series on Oct. 14 was a stunner on a couple fronts. First, that it came from the offensively challenged Smith. Second, it was the switch-hitter's first left-handed homer in 3,009 at-bats. The blast swung the series, which the Cards clinched in Game 6.
- The home run was voted the greatest moment in Busch Stadium history by Cardinals fans.
- The 15-time All-Star became a much better hitter in the late '80s. In '87, Smith was the NL MVP runner-up to #84 Andre Dawson, hitting a career-high .303 with 75 RBI. He didn't hit a home run (he had only 28 in his career) but won his only Silver Slugger award and his eighth consecutive Gold Glove. He would go on to win 13 Gold Gloves.
FIVE FINAL FACTS
- Had 2,460 hits in 19 seasons, not bad for a pipsqueak who had the bat knocked out of his hands consistently early in his career.
- Retired as the major-league leader in career assists and double plays turned at shortstop.
- Ozzie's Gold Glove streak ended in '93, when the Pirates' #194 Jay Bell claimed the award.
- Went to Locke High School in Los Angeles, where he played basketball with Marques Johnson and baseball with #122 Eddie Murray.
- Stole 580 bases, averaging 37 a season.
|I GOT OZZIE IN SPRING TRAINING IN THE EARLY '90s.|