Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 28, 2002: The Wizard of Oz Finds His Way To Cooperstown

On July 28, 2002, Osborne Earl Smith found his way into baseball immortality as he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. In December of 1981, the Cardinals made a trade with the San Diego Padres that would lead to legendary status for Ozzie in the Gateway City, he had already established himself a as  Gold Glover in San Diego and would continue to flash the leather over the next 15 seasons with the Redbirds. His backflips mesmerized fans old and young as he became a part of the fabric of the Cardinals organization. While Ozzie was known for the glove more than the bat, he was no slouch at the plate. He hit at least .270 nine times and was a threat on the basepaths as well, he stole 20 or more bases 17 times. Perhaps the most memorable moment for Ozzie came in October of '85 when he hit the memorable home run to beat the Dodgers. I get to relive that call by Jack Buck every time I get a phone call, sometimes I miss the call because I enjoy it so much. "Smith corks one into right, down the line. It may go!!! Go Crazy Folks!!! Go Crazy!!! It's a home run and the Cardinals have won the game by the score of 3-2 on a home run by The Wizard!!!" It was the first left handed home run of Smith's career and it will live forever in the hearts of Cardinals fans. Smith not only helped the Cardinals win the World Championship in 1982 he helped lead the club back to the Fall Classic in '85 and '87, he became a pillar in the community and has remained a great part of the city of St. Louis. During his induction speech Ozzie held a copy of the book The Wizard of Oz, he compared his journey in baseball to Dorothy's trip down the Yellow Brick road. Ozzie would say he had a mind to think and dream, which was something that the Scarecrow cherished, a heart to believe, which the Tin Man wanted, and the courage to persevere, which was something the Lion lacked. The 15 time All Star and 13 time Gold Glover is and always will be one of the greatest shortstop to ever wear the birds on the bat and today I tip my cap to The Wizard of Oz.

You can read Ozzie's induction speech here:

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