Wednesday, September 30, 2015

no. 457 - willie smith

Who is the man: Willie Smith spent another season as mainly a pinch-hitter in 1970. He appeared in 87 games for the Cubs, but with just 167 at-bats.

Can ya dig it: Smith, who was traded to the Reds on Nov. 30, 1970, is wearing a Cubs jersey in this picture. Topps has cropped the image closely so all you notice is Smith's far-away brown eyes.

Right on: Second straight card featuring a player's final card.

You see that cat Smith is a bad mother: Smith hit a walk-off home run in the 11th inning on Opening Day for the Cubs on April 8, 1969. The Phillies had tied the game in the top of the ninth when Don Money hit a three-run home run. Then the Phillies went ahead 6-5 in the top of the 11th on Money's run-scoring double. But Smith responded with the real money hit when he sent a Barry Lersch pitch over the right-center field fence with Randy Hundley on base to give the Cubs the victory.

Shut your mouth: Smith was the first of four Willies to reach the upper deck at old Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium. The other three were Willie Stargell, Willie McCovey and Willie Mays.

No one understands him but his woman: Smith started his major league career as a pitcher, throwing for the Tigers in 1963 and the Angels in 1964. Angels manager Bill Rigney converted Smith to an outfielder because his bat was too good to leave out of the lineup. But Smith did pitch three more times in 1968 for the Indians and Cubs.

(A word about the back): Smith's page does not list his birth date for whatever reason. But his birthday -- Feb. 11, 1939 -- is on this card.

1 comment:

  1. The birthday thing may be partially my fault. I let them know about their Negro League listings for Smith, which have him playing in 1946 and 1948. Now, he DID play as an "underage" player in those leagues, but I doubt he was 7 and 9 years old at the time.