07/18/2002 8:47 pm ET
About Ozzie Smith ...
Osborne Earl Smith was born Dec. 26, 1954 in Mobile, Ala. He grew up in Los Angeles and attended college at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. While it was a long hike from his childhood to professional baseball, once he made it to the pro ranks, his ascent was blindingly fast.
Smith played just 68 games in the minor leagues before he was called up to the San Diego Padres. In his early years in the big leagues, he was a classic good-field, no-hit shortstop. But even with his .258 average and minimal power, "The Wizard of Oz" was runner-up to Atlanta's Bob Horner for National League Rookie of the Year honors in 1978. Even then, his fielding drew attention.
His hitting was slow to develop, but the glovework quickly made him a star. In 1980, Smith won the first of his 13 consecutive Gold Gloves -- the most of any National League player or shortstop in history. The next year Smith made his first of 12 straight All-Star appearances. He would play in a total of 15 All-Star Games.
Before the 1982 season, San Diego dealt Smith to St. Louis in exchange for Garry Templeton, himself already a two-time All-Star. The deal, which looked like something of a push at the time, turned out to be a tremendous acquisition for the Cardinals. Smith played the last 15 seasons of his career in St. Louis. He helped the Cardinals win a World Series in 1982, and played in the Fall Classic with them in 1985 and 1987, as well.
During Smith's tenure as a Cardinal, his hitting improved to the point that he became a threat at the top of the order. His game-winning home run in Game 5 of the 1985 NL Championship Series still stands out as one of the highlights of Cardinals history. In 1987 he batted .303, scored 104 runs and drove in 75, all career bests. He finished second to Andre Dawson in the NL MVP balloting that season.
Since his retirement after the 1996 season, Smith has remained busy. He took over for the legendary Mel Allen as host of "This Week in Baseball," and he has done color commentary for Cardinals broadcasts as well as baseball analysis for CNN/SI. He maintains his home in the St. Louis area and is the father of three, sons Osborne Earl Jr. and Dustin, and daughter Taryn.
-- Matthew Leach