“31 in 31” – The 1970’s – Card #6
Ozzie Smith – 1979 Topps – #116
It’s not often that a player with 19 seasons of big league service would have his defensive skills admired more than his offensive ones. But, Ozzie Smith is not the common baseball player.
‘The Wizard of Oz’ is considered by most baseball fans as being the greatest defensive player in baseball’s history. With an unlimited amount of range, body control, and arm strength Ozzie made playing defense cool. When all the rage was about getting your turn at bat, kids all of a sudden practiced their defense with dreams of making plays the way Ozzie made them. Smith won the Gold Glove 13 consecutive seasons as the leagues best shortstop. His reputation was so powerful that batters playing against his team would often change their approach at the plate as anything hit his way was sure to be an out. Now that is respect!!
Offensively Smith was a singles hitter with a knack for getting on base and generating runs. With 2,460 career hits, 1,961 of them were singles. But when on base, Smith made the most of his opportunities. Ozzie has 580 stolen bases and has scored 1,257 runs.
Smith’s brilliance on defense and his keen base running skills earned him 6 Top 22 finishes for the MVP award.
Smith played in 3 World Series match-ups with the Cardinals and won his lone title in 1982. Ozzie Smith was voted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2002.