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Cardinalography: Meet Ozzie Smith

10:25 AM, Jun 14, 2010   |    comments
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(The Cardinal Nation Show) -- Ozzie Smith will forever be remembered as the greatest shortstop to ever play for the Cardinals.

"I was born in the baseball town of Mobile, Alabama. I moved to Los Angeles when I was six years old, so most of my growing up was done in southern California," said Ozzie.

Ozzie hoped to be drafted out of high school, but it was not to be. So he had to take a different route to get to the major leagues.

"I went to a small school called California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, California. And my junior year, I got drafted by the Detroit Tigers. I figured if they didn't give me at least $10,000, they weren't going to take a real good look at me. And this is my infinite wisdom. I asked the for the 10-grand, and they promptly told me no, that it 'wasn't in the budget,' so I went back to school and for my senior year with hopes getting drafted again. I did, this time by the San Diego Padres. I got drafted in the fourth round, and I'm thinking, 'hey, I finally made it.' But being the good business man that I was, I ended up signing for $5,000 and a bus ticket to Walawala, Washington," said Ozzie.

A salary dispute in San Diego for Ozzie and a personality problem for Garry Templeton in St. Louis enabled a trade to happen in February of 1982.

At his official press conference to introduce St. Louis to its new shortstop, Smith said, "What I would like people to do is appreciate me for Ozzie Smith. Garry Templeton is his own person. I've had a lot of time in the past couple months to sit down and analyze where I was headed, and I feel at this time, that this is the best thing that's happened to me and hopefully it will do a lot for my career."

Did it ever. For the next 15 seasons, Smith became the epitome of what a shortstop could and should be. He earned 13 consecutive Gold Gloves at shortstop along with 15 All-Star appearances. He was simply the best.

To most in the baseball world, Smith was all glove, but Ozzie worked hard to be a complete

player, and 24 hundred hits later, including one dramatic homer, people believed.

Smith retired in 1996, and was given a farewell not seen since the last days of Lou Brock's career.

Ozzie Smith, unbelievable and unforgettable, and man who never forgot what his mother said.

"My mom had always told me you know what whatever you choose to do with your life, do it with your heart. Put your heart into it. I always remembered that. I took that along with me."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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