Some of the Top Cards of 1976

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1976 Topps #215 - Reggie Smith



  • Reggie Smith was a powerful switch-hitting outfielder for four teams from 1966-1982. Reggie was also known for a powerful throwing arm. He started with the Minnesota Twins organization in 1963 and was drafted by the Boston Red Sox after the season in the 1963 first-year player draft. Reggie played in the minors until the end of the 1966 season when he played in six games as a September call-up for the Red Sox.
  • Smith made the Red Sox club in 1967 and became their starting center fielder. He finished second to Rod Carew in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. Reggie batted .246 with 15 HR and 61 RBI for the improbable AL pennant winners and batted .250 with 2 HR in the World Series. Smith won his first Gold Glove award in 1968. He batted .265 with 15 HR and 69 RBI and led the AL with 37 doubles. Here is a September 1968 Baseball Digest article about Smith.
  • In 1969 Reggie played in his first of seven All Star games. He batted .309 with 25 HR and 93 RBI. Smith's 1970 season was almost a carbon copy except for the RBI (.303, 22 HR, 74 RBI). In 1971 Reggie again led the AL in doubles with 33 and batted .283 with 30 HR and 96 RBI. His numbers were down a bit in 1972 (.270, 21 HR, 74 RBI) but he made the AL All Star team for the second time. Here is a July 1972 Baseball Digest article discussing the possibility of Reggie being a natural successor to Carl Yastrzemski as a Red Sox leader.
  • In 1973 Smith missed 47 games with injuries. They were probably "nagging injuries," since except for a 10-day gap in August there aren't any significant gaps in his playing time that year. He still batted .303 with 21 HR and 69 RBI. There were also some controversies during the season. He decked Bill Lee and there were some quotes about the racism of Red Sox fans. After the season he was traded by the Red Sox with Ken Tatum to the St. Louis Cardinals for Bernie Carbo and Rick Wise. The Red Sox had some guys in their system who they figured could replace Smith.
  • Here is a June 1974 Baseball Digest article about what Reggie would bring to the Cardinals. Smith picked up where he left off in Boston, batting .309 with 23 HR and 100 RBI and making the NL All Star team. He was also part of a rare "all .300 hitting outfield." Reggie made the NL All Star team again in 1975 and batted .302 with 19 HR and 76 RBI.
  • In 1976 Smith started the season with the Cardinals. The Cardinals were afraid that they wouldn't be able to sign him after the season so on June 15 he was traded to the LA Dodgers for Joe Ferguson and a couple of other guys. Smith missed some playing time in May and again in August. He played in only 112 games and had just about his worst offensive season (.253, 18 HR, 49 RBI).
  • The 1977 season was a good one for Smith. He led the NL with a .427 OBP, made the NL All Star team, and was 4th in MVP voting. Reggie batted .307 with 32 HR and 87 RBI. He also hit 3 HR in the 1977 World Series. Here is a December 1977 Baseball Digest article about Reggie's batting stances.
  • Smith made the All Star team again in 1978 and was 4th in MVP voting again. He batted .295 with 29 HR and 93 RBI. In 1979 injuries started to limit his playing time. He played in only 68 games in 1979 and batted .274 with 10 HR and 32 RBI. He made his last All Star team in 1981 but played in only 92 games, batting .322 with 15 HR and 55 RBI. Smith didn't play after August 13. A healthy Reggie Smith probably would have made the difference for the Dodgers in the closely contested 1980 NL West race.
  • The 1981 season was Smith's toughest season. Reggie was limited to pinch-hitting duties (except for two games at 1B) and batted only 44 times for a .200 average. After the season he was granted free agency and he signed with the rival San Francisco Giants. Smith played the 1982 season with the Giants (.284, 18 HR, 56 RBI) and then went to Japan for two seasons before retiring after the 1984 season.
  • After his career Smith served as a coach for the Dodgers for several years. Here is a May 1995 Baseball Digest article about Reggie's philosophy on hitting. In 1999 he became involved in USA baseball and has served as a hitting coach for the team off and on ever since. He also runs Reggie Smith Baseball Centers in Encino, California.
  • Here is a link to a SABR biography on Reggie.
  • Liked to face: Phil Niekro (.349, 6 HR in 63 AB), John Montefusco (.359, 6HR in 64 AB), and Joe Niekro (.449, 4 HR in 49 AB).
  • Hated to face: Jim Palmer (.211, 0 HR in 57 AB) and Jim Perry (.203, 1 HR in 53 AB).

2 comments:

  1. One of those cards from my childhood that was one of my favorites for no discernable reason. And it remains one of my favorites.

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  2. Wow. You are putting in a lot of work on this. Impressive.

    While watching the 1977 World Series on DVD recently, Howard Cosell remarked that Reggie Smith "is one of the best switch hitters" of all time. I believe he even said the second or third best ever.

    It struck me as an interesting comment that reflects just how respected Reggie Smith was while in his prime.

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