Mike Schmidt

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Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt.jpg
Third baseman
Born: (1949-09-27) September 27, 1949 (age 65)
Dayton, Ohio
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 12, 1972 for the Philadelphia Phillies
Last MLB appearance
May 28, 1989 for the Philadelphia Phillies
Career statistics
Batting average .267
Hits 2,234
Home runs 548
Runs batted in 1,595
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Induction 1995
Vote 96.5% (first ballot)

Michael Jack Schmidt (born September 27, 1949) is an American baseball third baseman who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Philadelphia Phillies. Schmidt was a twelve-time All-Star and three-time National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP), and he was known for his combination of power hitting and strong defense: as a hitter, he compiled 548 home runs and 1,595 runs batted in (RBIs), and led the NL in home runs eight times and in RBIs four times; as a fielder, Schmidt won the Gold Glove Award ten times. Schmidt was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995 and is considered one of the greatest third baseman in baseball history.[1][2][3]

Schmidt had an unusual batting stance, turning his back somewhat to the pitcher and shaking his rear end while waiting for the pitch. By standing far back in the batter's box, he made it impossible to jam him by pitching inside. Schmidt was one of the best athletes of his time; teammate Pete Rose once said, "To have his body, I'd trade him mine and my wife's, and I'd throw in some cash."[4]

Early days[edit]

Upon graduation from Fairview High School in Dayton, Ohio in 1967, Schmidt attended Ohio University in Athens, where he joined Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.[5] Schmidt led the Ohio Bobcats baseball team to the College World Series in 1970,[6] and was drafted by the Phillies in the second round of the 1971 Major League Baseball Draft with the 30th overall pick.

Professional baseball career[edit]

Minor leagues[edit]

On June 11, 1971, he was signed by scout Tony Lucadello, who had followed him since Little League Baseball.[7] Six days later, Schmidt made his professional debut in an exhibition game between the Phillies and the Reading Phillies in Reading. Schmidt played the whole game at shortstop for the Phillies and hit a game-winning home run against Reading.[8] Along with shortstop and third base, Schmidt also played some second base in the minors.

Major leagues[edit]

1972–1979[edit]

Schmidt spent two seasons in the Phillies' farm system, where he batted .263 with 34 home runs and 122 runs batted in. He received a September call-up to the Phillies in 1972, and made his major league debut against the New York Mets on September 12.[9] Four days later, Schmidt ended Montreal Expos pitcher Balor Moore's streak of 25 scoreless innings pitched with his first career home run.[10]

Following the 1972 season, the Phillies dealt third baseman Don Money to the Milwaukee Brewers to open a spot for Schmidt on their infield. While Schmidt batted only .196 with 136 strikeouts his first full season, he demonstrated his power potential with 18 home runs.

Schmidt's batting average climbed to .282 in the next year, 1974, and he won the first of his twelve All-Star nods.[11] On June 10, Schmidt hit a ball off of Houston Astros' pitcher Claude Osteen that hit a public address speaker suspended 117 feet above and 329 feet away from home plate in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. The ball then fell to the field, and by the Astrodome's ground rules, it remained in play. Schmidt was held to a single, and the runners on first and second each advanced just one base. It is believed that had it not hit the speaker, the ball would have carried beyond 500 feet.[12] For the season, Schmidt finished sixth in National League Most Valuable Player balloting as he batted .282 with 116 RBIs and a league leading 36 home runs to help the Phillies avoid a last place finish in the National League East for the first time since 1970. His 404 assists in 1974 remains a record for third basemen. He also filled in at shortstop and first base.

Schmidt's batting average hovered below .200 through the month of May 1975. Solid months of July and August saw his average rise to .249 by the end of the season as he led the league in home runs for the second year in a row with 38. Schmidt started the 1976 season off by hitting twelve home runs in Philadelphia's first fifteen games, including four in one game on April 17,[13] a feat accomplished only 16 times in the history of baseball. For the season, Schmidt drove in 107 runs, and led the league in home runs for the third year in a row (38), and won his first of ten Gold Gloves to lead the Phillies to their first division crown since division play started in 1969.

The Phillies captured the NL east crown three years in a row, however, they were swept by Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" in 1976, and lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977 and 1978. On December 5, 1978, the Phillies signed Pete Rose as a free agent, temporarily making Rose the highest-paid athlete in team sports when they signed him to a four-year, $3.2-million contract. With Rose on board, the Phillies were early favorites to repeat as division winners in 1979. Instead, the Phillies finished the season at 84-78, and in fourth place in NL East. For his part, Schmidt broke the club record for home runs in a season with 45, eclipsing Chuck Klein's 43 hit in 1929.

1980–1986[edit]

On October 3, 1980, the Phillies went into Montreal tied with the Expos for first place in the NL East. With a sacrifice fly in the first, and a solo home run in the sixth, Schmidt led the Phillies to a 2-1 victory to capture first place.[14] A day later, Schmidt hit his 48th home run of the season in the 11th inning to give the Phillies the 6-4 extra innings victory over the Expos, and clinch the division.[15] His 48 home runs broke his own team record, and led the National League by a margin of thirteen over his nearest competitor (His home run mark would stand for 26 years until first baseman and 2006 National League MVP Ryan Howard hit 58 in 2006). Coupled with a league leading 121 RBIs, Schmidt was a unanimous choice for the National League's Most Valuable Player Award.

The Phillies defeated the Houston Astros in the 1980 National League Championship Series[16] to reach the World Series for the third time in franchise history. Though Schmidt had just a career .191 post-season batting average with no home runs and five RBIs, his bat came alive in the 1980 World Series, hitting two homers and driving in seven runs against the Kansas City Royals to earn him the World Series MVP Award. Following the World Series, Schmidt and four of his Phillies teammates appeared on Family Feud for one week in 1980. He, Larry Bowa, Garry Maddox, Dick Ruthven and Del Unser took on five members of the Kansas City Royals: Dennis Leonard, Dan Quisenberry, Paul Splittorff, John Wathan and Willie Wilson.

Schmidt's best season may have been the strike shortened 1981 season. His 31 home runs were seven more than anyone else in the league. He also led the NL in runs scored, RBIs, total bases and walks, and set personal highs in batting average, on-base average and slugging average. He won his second consecutive MVP award, this time with 96% of the vote.

The Phillies led the NL East by 3.5 games when the 1981 Major League Baseball strike hit. As a result, the Phillies were named NL East champions for the first half of the season, however, they lost to the second half champion Montreal Expos in the 1981 National League Division Series.

In 1983, in celebration of the team's 100th anniversary, Schmidt was voted by fans the greatest player in the history of the franchise. That year, he led the league in home runs for the sixth time in his career to lead the Phillies back to the post season. Schmidt led his team with a .467 batting average and scored five runs as they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1983 National League Championship Series. It was, however, a much different story against the Baltimore Orioles in the 1983 World Series. The Phillies were held to a .195 team batting average; Schmidt went just 1-for-20 with a single.

Following the 1983 season, the Phillies dealt Pete Rose to the Montreal Expos. Tim Corcoran and Len Matuszek platooned at first in 1984, however, neither provided to the offensive spark Rose did. In 1985, Schmidt was moved to first base from late May through the end of the season with Rick Schu assuming third base duties. The Phillies finished with a record below .500 for the first time since 1974.

In 1986, the Phillies moved outfielder Von Hayes to first base and shifted Schmidt back to his natural position. He responded by winning his third MVP award, a record for third basemen,[17] with a league leading 37 home runs and 119 RBIs.

1987–1989[edit]

Schmidt homers against the Reds on July 20, 1987, at the Vet

Trailing the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 at Three Rivers Stadium on April 18, 1987, Schmidt hit his career 500th home run, a three run shot off of Don Robinson to win the game, 8-6.[18]

Injuries to Schmidt's rotator cuff caused him to miss the last month and a half of the 1988 season. He returned healthy for the 1989 season, however, after a poor start, Schmidt suddenly chose to announce his retirement in San Diego, on May 29. Although he typically demonstrated little emotion on the field (and was known as "Captain Cool" by many in Philadelphia sports circles), Schmidt surprised many with an emotional, and occasionally tearful, retirement speech. His last game was May 28, 1989, against the San Francisco Giants.[19]

Despite his own perceived subpar start and subsequent retirement on May 29th, fans once again voted Schmidt to be the starting third basemen for the NL All-Star team. He decided not to play, but he did participate in the game's opening ceremony.[20]

Career statistics[edit]

Games PA AB Runs Hits 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO Avg. Slg. OBP OPS Fld%
2,404 10,062 8,352 1,506 2,234 408 59 548 1,595 174 1,507 1,883 .267 .527 .380 .908 .961

Over his career Schmidt set a vast array of hitting and fielding records. In addition to his MVP Awards, Schmidt won ten Gold Gloves, led the league in home runs eight times, in RBIs four times, OPS five times, and walks four times. He was named to twelve All-Star teams. He is the Phillies all-time leader in games played, at-bats, plate appearances, runs scored, home runs, RBI, walks, strikeouts, total bases, runs created, sacrifice flies, outs, Adj. Batting Runs, Adj. Batting Wins, Extra Base Hits, Times On Base, and Power-Speed number.

Schmidt's 548 home runs are the most ever hit by a player who spent his entire career with just one team.

Post-playing career[edit]

PhilsSchmidt.PNG
Mike Schmidt's number 20 was retired by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1990.

Schmidt opted, at first, to pursue a more private lifestyle after his career, rather than to become a manager or coach. He has written a number of articles on baseball for CBS and regularly participates in charity golf tournaments.

The Sporting News named Schmidt "The Player of the Decade" of the 1980s, in their January 29th, 1990 issue.

His uniform number 20 was retired by the Phillies during the 1990 season.

In 1991, he and Nolan Ryan were inducted into the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum's Hall of Excellence (established in 1988), thereby becoming only the second and third MLB players inducted into the Hall.

In 1995, Schmidt was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum with what was then the fourth highest percentage ever, 96.52%.[21] (Nolan Ryan and George Brett surpassed his percentage in 1999).

In 1999, he ranked number 28 on The Sporting News's list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players,[22] the highest-ranking third baseman, and the highest-ranking player whose career began after 1967. Later that year, he was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Schmidt was honored with a statue outside the third-base gate at Citizens Bank Park in 2004.

On September 27, 2006, Schmidt was announced as the Phillies "DHL Hometown Hero", beating-out Steve Carlton, Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts and Chuck Klein.

Schmidt has publicly expressed his thoughts on various baseball controversies. He has been a vocal advocate for the reinstatement of Pete Rose to baseball. In July 2005, he appeared on Bob Costas' HBO show Costas Now to discuss steroids, and said, "Let me go out on a limb and say that if I had played during that era I would have taken steroids... We all have these things we deal with in life, and I'm surely not going to sit here and say to you guys, 'I wouldn't have done that.'" In his 2006 book, Clearing the Bases: Juiced Players, Monster Salaries, Sham Records, and a Hall of Famer's Search for the Soul of Baseball, he somewhat recanted that statement, saying that he understood the desire to get a competitive advantage even though he could not condone breaking the rules to do so.

Coaching[edit]

In 2002, Schmidt was hired by the Phillies to work for several weeks as a hitting coach each Spring training. In October 2003, Schmidt was named the manager of the Phillies' Single A Florida State League affiliate, the Clearwater Threshers. He managed them for just the 2004 season, then resigned. In 2009, he served as third base coach for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

Philanthropy[edit]

In 2001, Schmidt began sponsoring an annual fishing tournament known as the Mike Schmidt Winner's Circle Invitational at Old Bahama Bay in West End, Grand Bahama Island. The first event raised $27,000, and has since raised over $1.5 million for cystic fibrosis.[23]

In 2008, Schmidt released a wine called Mike Schmidt 548 Zinfandel, a reference to his 548 career home runs, with proceeds also going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.[24]

Broadcasting[edit]

Schmidt spent one season (1990) as a color analyst with the Phillies broadcast team on the now-defunct PRISM network, where he was known to be very candid and honest. Starting with the 2014 season, Schmidt serves as a color analyst for the Phillies' Sunday home games on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.[25]

Cancer[edit]

On March 16, 2014, Schmidt disclosed that he battled stage-3 melanoma cancer during the summer of 2013, but that he is now cancer-free.[26]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ESPN Greatest 3rd Basemen
  2. ^ Ranking the Greatest 3rd Basemen
  3. ^ Sports Illustrated Top 3rd Basemen
  4. ^ Jordan, David M. Pete Rose: A Biography. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 91. 
  5. ^ "Mike Schmidt Official Website". 
  6. ^ "Chat with Mike Schmidt". ESPN. 
  7. ^ Frank Dolson (May 10, 1989). "This Scout Was Truly Great At Judging A Player's Heart". Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  8. ^ Duke DeLuca (1971-06-18). "Palmer Doesn't Mind The Exhibition Games". Reading Eagles. pp. 26, 28. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  9. ^ "New York Mets 4, Philadelphia Phillies 3". Baseball-Reference.com. September 12, 1972. 
  10. ^ "Philadelphia Phillies 3, Montreal Expos 1". Baseball-Reference.com. September 16, 1972. 
  11. ^ "1974 All-Star Game". Baseball-Reference.com. July 23, 1974. 
  12. ^ Gutman, Bill (1981). Baseball's Belters: Jackson Schmidt Parker Brett. Ace Books. pp. 80–81. 
  13. ^ "Philadelphia Phillies 18, Chicago Cubs 16". Baseball-Reference.com. April 17, 1976. 
  14. ^ "Philadelphia Phillies 2, Montreal Expos 1". Baseball-Reference.com. October 3, 1980. 
  15. ^ "Philadelphia Phillies 6, Montreal Expos 4". Baseball-Reference.com. October 4, 1980. 
  16. ^ "1980 National League Championship Series". Baseball-Reference.com. October 7–12, 1980. 
  17. ^ Rogers, Thomas (November 20, 1986). "Schmidt Joins an Elite Club". New York Times. p. D27. 
  18. ^ "Philadelphia Phillies 8, Pittsburgh Pirates 6". Baseball-Reference.com. April 18, 1987. 
  19. ^ "San Francisco Giants 8, Philadelphia Phillies 5". Baseball-Reference.com. May 28, 1989. 
  20. ^ "1989 All-Star Game". Baseball-Reference.com. July 11, 1989. 
  21. ^ Claire Smith (January 10, 1995). "BASEBALL; Schmidt Again Puts Up Big Numbers". New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2009. 
  22. ^ "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players". Sporting News. 1998. 
  23. ^ "Mike Schmidt Winner's Circle Invitational". 
  24. ^ "Mike Schmidt 548 Zinfandel". Event Wines. 
  25. ^ Lawrence, Ryan (February 26, 2014). "Schmidt to join Phillies' Sunday telecasts". Philly.com. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  26. ^ http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20140317_Schmidt_discusses_his_battle_with_melanoma.html

External links[edit]

Some or all content from this article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the BR Bullpen article "Mike Schmidt".