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Mike Schmidt

Third baseman
Born: September 27, 1949 (1949-09-27) (age 60)
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
Home runs     548
Runs batted in     1,595
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction     1995
Vote     96.5% (first ballot)

Michael Jack Schmidt (born September 27, 1949 in Dayton, Ohio) is a former Major League Baseball third baseman who played his entire career for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Schmidt is considered among the greatest third basemen in the history of major league baseball. Schmidt was voted National League MVP three times, an All-Star 12 times, and received more votes than any other third baseman in 1999's Major League Baseball All-Century Team. In 1995, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.[1]

Schmidt resides in Jupiter, Florida.

Contents

Career

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Early days

Schmidt graduated from Fairview High School in Dayton, Ohio, in 1967 and enrolled at Ohio University in Athens. He quickly established himself as the Bobcats' best player while playing primarily at first base. He was successful not only on the athletic field but also as an architecture student. He was a member of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.

The Phillies drafted Schmidt in the second round of the 1971 Major League Baseball Draft with the 30th overall pick. He was signed by scout Tony Lucadello, who had followed him since Little League.[2] He was assigned to the Phillies' farm system where he rapidly progressed, joining the Phillies in 1972. In 1973, his first full season, Schmidt batted only .196 with 136 strikeouts. He did, however, demonstrate his power potential with 18 home runs.

Blossoming

Schmidt had a breakout season in 1974, when he led the National League in home runs and demonstrated his prowess in the field. Over the rest of the 1970s, he excelled with bat and glove, winning two more home run titles and a succession of Gold Gloves. He helped the Phillies win three straight division titles from 1976 to 1978, the team's first post-season appearances since 1950.

Schmidt had a powerful arm and was especially adept at fielding short grounders barehanded. His 404 assists in 1974 remain a record for third basemen. He also filled in at shortstop and first base.

On June 10, 1974, Schmidt hit a pitch into 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, where, by the Astrodome's ground rules, it remained in play. Since he had already started his slow home run trot, he was held to a single. Runners on first and second when the ball was hit each advanced only one base. Many experts agree the ball would have carried beyond 500 feet.

In 1976, Schmidt hit 12 home runs in Philadelphia's first 15 games, including four in one game on April 17[1], a feat accomplished only 15 times in the history of baseball. Schmidt won his first of 10 Gold Gloves that year and carried the Phillies to the 1976 NLCS, where he hit .308.

1977 was a key season in Schmidt's career. Up until then, despite his recognition in the National League as both a slugger and dynamic defensive third baseman, Schmidt's batting average had been mediocre. Now, however, he improved that average by re-vamping his hitting. Early on, Schmidt had been a dead pull-hitter, taking almost every pitch to left field. Now he adjusted his stance and swing to go with the pitch and hit to all fields. The distance of his home runs declined, but their frequency did not. And Schmidt's overall hitting became much more consistent. In one month, his batting average rose from .243 to .292. Over the next few months, Schmidt very nearly achieved his first .300 season.

In 1980, Schmidt elevated his game, leading the league in home runs with 48 (by a margin of 13 over his nearest competitor), and winning the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in a unanimous vote. The Phillies won the World Series for the first time in team history, defeating the Kansas City Royals. Schmidt, who hit two homers and drove in seven runs, was selected as World Series MVP.

Coincidentally, Schmidt broke the club record for home runs in a season, Chuck Klein's 43 in 1929. This record stood for 26 years until first baseman and 2006 National League MVP Ryan Howard hit 58 home runs in 2006.

In 1981, the Phillies again reached the postseason and Schmidt won his second MVP Award, setting personal highs in batting average, on-base average, and slugging average during the strike-shortened season. 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 Phillies back to the World Series, but they were defeated by the Baltimore Orioles.

In 1985, Schmidt played primarily first base from late May through the end of the season. In 1986, Schmidt won his third MVP Award, a record for a third baseman.[3] In 1987, Schmidt hit his career 500th home run in the ninth inning of a game in Pittsburgh, providing the winning margin in an 8-6 victory.

Relationship with Fans

Schmidt once referred to the locals as "beyond help" and Veterans Stadium as a "mob scene, uncontrollable." When it came time to take the field after those comments, Schmidt came out wearing a wig and shades as a gag to hide from the boo-birds. The Veterans Stadium crowd erupted in laughter and gave Schmidt a standing ovation.

Retirement

Injuries to Schmidt's rotator cuff caused him to miss much of the 1988 season. After a poor start to the 1989 season, Schmidt suddenly chose to announce his retirement in San Diego, on May 29. 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.[4]

Despite his poor start and subsequent retirement, fans again voted Schmidt to the NL All-Star team. He decided not to play, but he did participate in the game's opening ceremony.[5][6]

Awards

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 RBI four times, OPS five times, and walks four times. He was named to twelve All-Star teams. Schmidt finished his career with 548 home runs and 1,595 RBI, two of the many Phillies career records he holds.

The Phillies retired Mike Schmidt's number in 1990.

In the year after his retirement, Schmidt spent one season as a member of the Phillies broadcast team on the now-defunct PRISM network. He was known as a very candid and honest broadcaster despite his limited experience in the area.

In 1995, Schmidt was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame with what was then the 4th-highest percentage ever, 96.52%.[7] (Nolan Ryan and George Brett surpassed his percentage in 1999).

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.

In 1999, he ranked number 28 on The Sporting News's list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, 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.

His uniform number 20 has been retired by the Phillies, and he has been honored with a statue outside the third-base gate at the team's home, Citizens Bank Park.

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.

He is the Phillies all-time leader in games played, at-bats, plate appearances, runs scored, hits, 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.

Style of play

Schmidt demonstrated little emotion on the field. He had an unusual batting stance, turning his back somewhat to the pitcher and waving his posterior 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."[8]

Coaching career

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 Clearwater Threshers in the Florida State League, a Single A team within the Phillies minor league system. He managed them in the 2004 season and then resigned.

In 2009, he served as third base coach for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

Controversy

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, Shrinking Ballparks, 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.

Philanthropy

Schmidt continues to sponsor the Mike Schmidt Bahamas Winner's Circle Invitational. The first year of the event in 2001, he gathered a small group of friends and held a kick-off dinner, raising $27,000. Through 2007, the tournament has raised over $1,000,000.

In 2008, Schmidt released a charity wine called Mike Schmidt 548 Zinfandel, a reference to his 548 career home runs, with all of his proceeds donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

See also

Notes

Further reading

External links


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