Hal Smith (catcher)

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Hal Smith
Hal Smith - St. Louis Cardinals - 1957.jpg
Smith with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1957
Born: (1931-06-01)June 1, 1931
Barling, Arkansas
Died: April 12, 2014(2014-04-12) (aged 82)
Fort Smith, Arkansas
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 2, 1956, for the St. Louis Cardinals
Last MLB appearance
July 8, 1965, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
MLB statistics
Batting average.258
Home runs23
Runs batted in132
Career highlights and awards

Harold Raymond Smith (June 1, 1931 – April 12, 2014) was an American professional baseball player coach, scout and manager. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals (1956–61) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1965). Born in Barling, Arkansas, Smith batted and threw right-handed; he stood 5 feet 10½ inches (1.8 m) tall and weighed 186 pounds (84 kg). After Smith's playing career was curtailed by a heart ailment during the 1961 season, he became a longtime employee of the Cardinals' organization as Major League coach, minor league manager and scout. He also served as a coach for the Pirates (1965–67), Cincinnati Reds (1968–69) and Milwaukee Brewers (1976–77).

Smith was a standout catcher for the Cardinals during his six years with them. He was the club's regular receiver from 1956 until his forced retirement and was selected a National League All-Star in 1957 and 1959. Smith led NL catchers in throwing out would-be base-stealers in both 1959 and 1960, and in caught stealing percentage in 1960.

But on June 10, 1961, after starting 42 of the Cardinals' first 48 games—and shortly after he celebrated his 30th birthday—Smith complained of chest and upper abdominal pains. He was admitted to Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, where he was diagnosed with a "coronary artery condition."[1] Smith was forced to immediately retire from playing baseball, and was the Cardinals' bullpen coach in 1962. His disability eventually cleared the way for Tim McCarver to become the Cardinals' new regular catcher.

Four years after his illness forced him to the sidelines, Smith was able to appear in four games in July 1965 for the Pirates as a player-coach on an emergency basis, when Jim Pagliaroni, Del Crandall and Ozzie Virgil were injured.[2] Smith started one game (July 1 against the Cardinals), and was a defensive replacement in his three remaining appearances, catching for 12 total innings.[3] He then returned to the coaching ranks on Harry Walker's staff.

In a seven-season career, Smith was a .258 hitter with 437 hits, including 63 doubles, eight triples and 23 home runs and 172 RBI in 570 games. As a catcher, he appeared in 548 games and recorded 2,810 putouts, 247 assists, and only 33 errors in 2,890 total chances for a .989 fielding percentage.

In 1960–61, he was one of two Hal Smiths catching in the National League; the other, Harold Wayne Smith, toiled for the Pirates.

Smith is the subject of a biography, The Barling Darling: Hal Smith In American Baseball, written by Billy D. Higgins.[4]

A United States Air Force veteran during the Korean War, Smith was buried at the Fort Smith National Cemetery.[5]

His granddaughter, Jency Williams, 31 at the time, was on Supernanny on March 5, 2007, with her kids Bradley, 12, Kelsee, 10, and Hagan, 5, at the time.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hal Smith has heart condition". Mason City Globe-Gazette. Associated Press. 21 June 1961. p. 19. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  2. ^ Mulvoy, Mark (12 July 1965). "Baseball's Week". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  3. ^ "1965 NL Defensive Log for Hal Smith". Retrosheet. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  4. ^ Higgins, Billy D.; Smith, Hal (2009). The Barling Darling: Hal Smith in American Baseball. Butler Center Books. ISBN 9781935106098.
  5. ^ Baseball Almanac

External links[edit]