Reggie Smith won his World Series ring with the Dodgers, but it was payment for all those good years in Boston and St. Louis.
Smith was a splendid ballplayer and in fact if he played in today’s game would be more famous than he was in his time. The reason? No one really paid attention to OBP or SP in those days, batting average was the number that held sway.
Smith arrived in Boston in late 1966 as the team slumbered to a 9th place finish. The next season, with Smith in the lineup and Mike Andrews joining him from the minors in the everyday starting 8, they won the pennant.
In his Historical Abstract (the hard cover one, first one-1986), Bill James wrote: “Very similar to Larry Doby. Never really gets credit for being a “winner”, yet in his rookie year the Red Sox were a miracle team, and it was in his first year with the Dodgers they finally got over the big Red hump. In 1974 he was traded from Boston to the Cardinals, and the Red Sox declined by 5 games while St. Louis improved by four and a half.
At that time, 1986, Bill James ranked Reggie Smith as the 10th most valuable centerfielder in “career value” throughout major league history (tied with Richie Ashburn). Smith was a smart player, got to a lot of balls in the outfield (I don’t know his range factor but it was good), threw to the right base with authority, was a master of the base on balls and hit for terrific average with plus power. Smith was a switch hitter and iirc was effective from both sides of the plate. Darrell Evans is probably the most underrated player in baseball history, Reggie Smith is right behind him.
Another anecdote speaking to Smith’s value goes like this: In the 1978 season, Dodger pitcher Don Sutton went public with comments that Smith was a more valuable player to the Dodgers than the more-celebrated Steve Garvey. This led to an infamous clubhouse wrestling match between Sutton and Garvey. Source: Wikipedia.
I think 2004 was for the fans, and that’s fine. However, the Boston fans have lost their charm and now most resemble Yankee fans. So, this fall I suggest we honor those wonderful players on the Red Sox teams that could not make the grade, that did not have enough to get by their opponents for those many decades due only to the lead feet of the rest of the order.
Honor Reggie Smith. He is worthy.