Ozzie Smith

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Ozzie Smith : biography

December 26, 1954 –

Smith has also been an entrepreneur in a variety of business ventures. Smith opened "Ozzie’s" restaurant and sports bar in 1988, started a youth sports academy in 1990, became an investor in a grocery store chain in 1999, and partnered with David Slay to open a restaurant in the early 2000s.Rains and Reid 2002: 113 Of those businesses the youth academy remains in operation, with the restaurant having closed in 2010 after changing ownership and locations once. Aside from appearing in numerous radio and television commercials in the St. Louis area since retiring from baseball, Smith authored a children’s book in 2006 and launched his own brand of salad dressing in 2008.

Smith is father to three children from his marriage to former wife Denise; sons Nikko, Dustin, and daughter Taryn. Smith remains a visible figure around the St. Louis area, making varied appearances like playing the role of the Wizard in the St. Louis Municipal Opera’s summer 2001 production of The Wizard of Oz.Rains and Reid 2002: 114 In 1999 he ranked number 87 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players,http://www.baseball-almanac.com/legendary/lisn100.shtml and finished third in voting at shortstop for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.Smith 1998: 189 Smith has also been honored with induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the St. Louis Walk of Fame, and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Cal Poly. Smith cheered on his son Nikko as he cracked the top ten finalists of the 2005 edition of American Idol.Wald, Jaina. "When it’s "Idol" time at Ozzie’s, folks go crazy for Nikko." St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 2005-04-06. E3. Retrieved on 2008-03-19. In 2012 Smith made news headlines again, when he sold all of his Gold Gloves at auction together for more than $500,000.

Early life

Smith was born in Mobile, Alabama, the second of Clovi and Marvella Smith’s six children (five boys and one girl). While the family lived in Mobile, his father worked as a sandblaster at Brookley Air Force Base.Smith and Rains 1988: 6 When Smith was six his family moved to the Watts section of Los Angeles, California. His father became a delivery truck driver for Safeway stores, while his mother became an aide at a nursing home. His mother was an influential part of his life who stressed the importance of education and encouraged him to pursue his dreams.Eisenbath 1999: 284–285

Smith played a variety of sports in his youth, but considered baseball to be his favorite.Smith and Rains 1988: 8 He developed quick reflexes through various athletic and leisure activity, such as bouncing a ball off the concrete steps in front of his house, moving in closer to reduce reaction time with each throw.Smith and Rains 2002: 24 When not at the local YMCA or playing sports, Smith sometimes went with friends to the neighborhood lumberyard, springboarding off inner tubes and doing flips into sawdust piles (a precursor to his famous backflips).Smith and Rains 1988: 7 In 1965, at age ten, he endured the Watts Riots with his family, recalling that, "We had to sleep on the floor because of all the sniping and looting going on."Smith and Rains 1988: 4

While Smith was attending junior high school, his parents divorced.Smith and Rains 1988: 9 Continuing to pursue his interest in baseball, he would ride the bus for nearly an hour to reach Dodger Stadium, cheering for the Los Angeles Dodgers at about 25 games a year. Upon becoming a student at Locke High School, Smith played on the basketball and baseball teams. Smith was a teammate of future National Basketball Association player Marques Johnson on the basketball team, and a teammate of future fellow Hall-of-Fame player Eddie Murray on the baseball side.Smith and Rains 1988: 9–10 After high school Smith attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1974 on a partial academic scholarship, and managed to walk-on to the baseball team. In addition to his academic education, he learned to switch-hit from Cal Poly coach Berdy Harr.Lang, Dave. "There is Only 1 Ozzie Smith." St. Louis Cardinals Official 1993 Yearbook. 1993. 17 When Cal Poly’s starting shortstop broke his leg midway through the 1974 season, Smith subsequently took over the starting role. Later named an All-American athlete, he established school records in career at bats (754) and career stolen bases (110) before graduating in 1977.