Say what you will about the ’90s shortstop revolution, I’ll take the ’80s defensive wizards any day. Ozzie Smith was the no-brainer fan pick, starting his sixth straight All-Star Game; he would start the next four straight before passing the mantle to Barry Larkin. Lark would end up starting five ASGs in his career, and being on the roster for seven more. The other backup in 1988, Shawon Dunston, was only named to two All-Star teams in his career, but man he had a rocket for an arm.
The players poll showed that those who shared the field with the Wizard agreed wholeheartedly with the fans’ choice.
- Ozzie Smith 143
- Shawon Dunston 17
- Barry Larkin 11
- Jose Uribe 8
- Garry Templeton 2
- Dave Anderson 1
- Alfredo Griffin 1
- Rafael Ramirez 1
After several years of multiple inductees, Ozzie Smith was the only man granted baseball immortality in 2002. The Wizard of Oz was one of the most exciting shortstops to watch, making amazing defensive plays nearly every game. Immensely popular, he sailed into Cooperstown on his first ballot with 91.7% support.
In 1986 Topps teamed up with Quaker to issue a 33-card set full of superstars, including a nice handful of future Hall of Famers. This week, we’re looking at the cards in the set; today we have cards 10-18…
This page almost looks like a dream line-up of 1980s stars…first baseman Don Mattingly, second baseman Ryne Sandberg, third baseman Mike Schmidt, shortstop Ozzie Smith, outfielders Darryl Strawberry and Tim Raines, and pitcher Fernando Valenzuela. Pete Rose was nearing the end of his career, having just broken Ty Cobb‘s hits record in September 1985. Many thought Nolan Ryan‘s best years were behind him, but he would actually pitch two more no-hitters in the next decade.
The Hall of Fame count for this group is four: Ryan, Sandberg, Schmidt, and Smith. Raines will probably join that group eventually, and really should already be there. As the premiere leadoff hitter in the National League, Raines was a seven-time All-Star for the Expos and is currently fifth on the career stolen base leaderboard. He received 52.2% of the vote in 2013 for Cooperstown, more than double the support he received in his first year on the ballot.
The greatest defensive shortstop of all-time, Ozzie Smith is the very definition of the word “legend.” How 8.3% of the voters didn’t see fit to vote for the Wizard for Hall of Fame honors in 2002 boggles my mind. Of 472 ballots cast, he received 433 votes to be the only BBWAA inductee that year, though five other future Hall of Famers were on the list as well.
Photo credit: AP
I started putting together this virtual set of “fun cards” near the end of the 2011 baseball season. I intended to begin posting them in November after the postseason wrapped up, but got busy with other projects and real life. Since I have the ’11 date on the front of the cards, I decided I should go ahead and start posting them now!
Featuring all the retired uniform numbers in baseball, this set includes Hall of Famers, managers, some lesser-known players, and even a handful of broadcasters. I used the team pages on Baseball-Reference.com as the main source of what numbers are retired, although they are missing a couple. There are also some discrepencies between B-R and Wikipedia as to which pre-number players are honored by teams. In these cases, I simply went with B-R’s information.
Billy Meyer, Pittsburgh Pirates
We’ll start with #1, retired by seven MLB teams, honoring four Hall of Fame players and three managers. The most curious selection among these is manager Billy Meyer, whose .412 record is nothing to brag about, nor is the 42-112 record in 1957, worst in Pirates history. Regardless of his short and unsuccessful managerial career, the team chose to retire his uniform number in 1954.
Billy Martin, New York Yankees
Bobby Doerr, Boston Red Sox
Fred Hutchinson, Cincinnati Reds
Ozzie Smith, St. Louis Cardinals
Pee Wee Reese, Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers
Richie Ashburn, Philadelphia Phillies
Ozzie Smith was probably the greatest defensive player of all-time, regardless of position. He simply had skeelz. That’s why they call hm the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.