A switch-hitting star
Catching up with Reggie Smith
ENCINO, California -- Prior to the 2004 World Series, the last time the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals met in the World Series was in 1967 - "The Impossible Dream" Red Sox team.
That was also the rookie season of one of the greatest switch-hitters in Red Sox history Reggie Smith.
During the 1967 World Series, Smith hit two home runs, but in the end, unlike 2004, the Cardinals crushed the hearts of Red Sox nation winning in seven games.
Its what every young player dreams about, said Smith. When you are playing as a kid and you are in school and you listen to the World Series you dream about playing in the World Series. Thats what it was like my first year and it was a dream come true.
The 1967 season was just a precursor to what Smith did during his eight years with the Red Sox. He won a Gold Glove (1968), made two all star appearances (1969, 72) and in 1968 and 1971 led the league in doubles with 37 and 33, respectively.
These days, Smith, 59, is still involved in baseball and runs his own baseball center in Encino, California appropriately named the "Reggie Smith Baseball Center" (www.reggiesmithbaseball.com).
We provide instruction on all levels, said Smith. I work with professional players all the way down to Little Leaguers. I enjoy it very much to the point where I have turned down other opportunities to coach at the Major League level. This is where I feel I am needed to develop young players.
I got it started over ten years ago as a means of accomplishing the things that ultimately I am supposed to do on this earth and that is to teach. It is easy for me to teach something that I had spent 22 years professionally learning to do.
Smith resides in California with his wife Rose. He has two children and three grandchildren.
I chose to live in California because its home, said Smith. Its where I grew up and I had an opportunity to go home after being traded from Boston to St. Louis and St. Louis to Los Angeles. This is my home and I have been back here since 1976 after living 10 years in Boston.
When Smith is not working, he is doing charity work work all over the country. Smith visits hospitals, youth centers, cancer centers and helps fund raising through golf tournaments and different activities.
The community is very important to me and its a way for me to share the gift that was given to me by being able to play, said Smith. If I can inspire someone or provide a moment of enjoyment or pleasure for someone where I am with them and talk to them thats the least I can do. I try to encourage people and send positive messages.
Smith was drafted by the Red Sox from the Minnesota Twins in the 1963 first-year draft after the Twins left him unprotected. In 1973, Smith was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals along with Ken Tatum for Rick Wise and Bernie Carbo. The Cardinals traded Smith the following season to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played five and a half seasons with the Dodgers, then finished his baseball career with the San Francisco Giants.
Early on the fact that you get to the Major Leagues with the team you enjoy the time, said Smith. My kids were born there (Boston), but later on as time went by it was time to move on. Eventually I moved on to the National League where I think I flourished and produced even more.
Smith played 17 seasons in the Major Leagues, but the majority of his success came with the Red Sox and Dodgers. For his Major League career, Smith hit .287 with 314 home runs, 1,092 RBI, and 1,123 runs scored.
He is fourth on the all-time home run list for switch hitters, he played in four World Series, and he appeared in seven All Star games.
I am very proud of those accomplishments, but thats something in the past and I do not dwell on it, said Smith. If someone wants to talk about it at that time I do share in those moments.
I do take pride in the fact that I was good enough to participate in every little boys dream. Thats what baseball was to me getting paid to play a little boys game. I was extremely blessed and extremely fortunate.