Ozzie Smith

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Ozzie Smith : biography

December 26, 1954 –

Trade

While Smith was having problems with the Padres’ owners, the St. Louis Cardinals also found themselves unhappy with their shortstop. During a game at Busch Stadium on August 26, 1981, Garry Templeton made obscene gestures at fans before being pulled off the field by manager Whitey Herzog.O’Neill 2005: 108Herzog and Horrigan 1987: 135–136 Given the task of overhauling the Cardinals by owner Gussie Busch, Herzog was looking to trade Templeton when he was approached by Padres General Manager Jack McKeon at the 1981 baseball winter meetings.Herzog and Horrigan 1987: 119–120, 137 While McKeon had previously told Herzog that Smith was untouchable in any trade, the Padres were now so angry at Smith’s agent Gottlieb that McKeon was willing to deal.Herzog and Horrigan 1987: 137

McKeon and Herzog agreed in principle to a six-player trade, with Templeton for Smith as the centerpiece. It was then that Padres manager Dick Williams informed Herzog that a no-trade clause had been included in Smith’s 1981 contract.Herzog and Pitts 1999: 92–93 Upon learning of the trade, Smith’s initial reaction was to invoke the clause and stay in San Diego, but he was still interested to hear what the Cardinals had to say.Smith and Rains 1988: 51 While the deal for the players beside Templeton and Smith went through, Herzog flew to San Diego to meet with Smith and Gottlieb over the Christmas holiday.Herzog and Horrigan 1987: 138 Smith later recalled that, "Whitey told me that with me playing shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals, we could win the pennant. He made me feel wanted, which was a feeling I was quickly losing from the Padres. The mere fact that Whitey would come all the way out there to talk to us was more than enough to convince me that St. Louis was the place I wanted to be."Smith and Rains 1988: 52

St. Louis Cardinals

1982–1984

After more behind-the-scenes contract wrangling, Smith became a St. Louis Cardinal on February 11, 1982.Smith and Rains 1988: 57 Herzog believed Smith could improve his offensive production by hitting more ground balls, and subsequently created a motivational tool designed to help Smith concentrate on that task.Smith and Rains 2002: 28–29 Approaching Smith one day during spring training, Herzog said, "Every time you hit a fly ball, you owe me a buck. Every time you hit a ground ball, I owe you a buck. We’ll keep that going all year."Smith and Rains 1988: 61 Smith agreed to the wager, and by the end of the season had won close to $300 from Herzog. As the 1982 season got underway, Herzog’s newly assembled team won 12 games in a row during the month of April, and finished the season atop the National League East division.Leach 2008: 37 Herzog would later say of Smith’s contributions that, "If he saved two runs a game on defense, which he did many a night, it seemed to me that was just as valuable to the team as a player who drove in two runs a game on offense."Smith and Rains 2002: 6

Smith became a father for the first time during the 1982 season with the birth of his son O.J., today known as Nikko, on April 28.Smith and Rains 1988: 65 Smith also developed a lasting friendship with teammate Willie McGee during the season, and Smith said he likes to think he "helped Willie get over some of the rough spots of adjusting to the major leagues".Smith and Rains 1988: 66 Smith later participated in the postseason for the first time when the Cardinals faced the Atlanta Braves in the best-of-five 1982 National League Championship Series (NLCS). Smith drove in the series’ first run by hitting a sacrifice fly that scored McGee in Game 1, ultimately going five for nine in St. Louis’ three-game series sweep.

Just as Herzog had predicted when he told Smith the Cardinals would win the pennant with him on the team, Smith found himself as the team’s starting shortstop in the best-of-seven 1982 World Series against the Milwaukee Brewers. During the contest Smith scored three runs, had five hits, and did not commit an error in the field.Rains 2003: 105 When St. Louis was trailing 3–1 with one out in the sixth inning of Game 7, Smith started a rally with a base hit to left field, eventually scoring the first of the team’s three runs that inning. The Cardinals scored two more runs in the 8th inning for a 6-3 win and the championship.