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Talbot Smith (born September 27, 1933, in Framingham, Massachusetts) is the president/baseball operations of the Houston Astros of National Major League Baseball and a longtime executive in the game who has also been a consultant on salary arbitration cases to MLB clubs. He is the father of baseball executive Randy Smith.

After attending Duke University, serving in the United States Air Force, and a brief time as a sportswriter, Tal Smith began his baseball career in the front office of the Cincinnati Reds as a protégé of Gabe Paul, their GM from 1951-60. He moved with Paul to Houston when the Astros were founded (as the Colt .45s) at the close of the 1960 baseball campaign. While Paul stayed only a few months in Texas before resigning to return to Ohio as front-office boss of the Cleveland Indians, Smith remained with Houston as the team's farm system director and he was promoted to vice president, player personnel after the 1965 season.

When Paul surfaced as a member of George Steinbrenner's syndicate, which purchased the New York Yankees early in 1973, he hired Smith away from the Astros as executive vice president and head of the Yanks' baseball operations department. Smith spent 2½ seasons as a key part of the management team that built the Yankees back into a league power. But when the chance came to become the general manager of the Astros on August 7, 1975, Smith accepted it.

Houston was in last place in the National League West Division when Smith assumed the reins, but under his leadership, the team rebuilt itself into contenders, winning its first division title in 1980. Along the way, Smith was named team president in 1976 and helped resolve the club's ownership problem when he helped to convince Dr. John McMullen, a limited partner in the Yankees, to sell his shares there and become the owner of the Astros.

However, in a move that shocked baseball, McMullen fired Smith as his general manager only days after the team's successful 1980 season. McMullen's motive was never fully explained, and Smith, rather than seeking another front-office job in the game, formed his own consulting firm (Tal Smith Enterprises) to advise MLB clubs on how best to handle salary arbitration cases with their players. His firm became extremely successful over the next 15 years. Thus it was also a surprise, in 1995, when Smith returned to the Astros (under the club's current owner, Drayton McLane, Jr.), as president of baseball operations, a position he continues to hold. Likewise, Tal Smith Enterprises is still a going concern. On August 27, 2007, Smith was named acting GM after the firing of Tim Purpura. He re-assumed his previous position upon the appointment of Ed Wade as fulltime GM on September 21, 2007.

References

Preceded by
Paul Richards
Houston Astros General Manager
19651967
Succeeded by
Spec Richardson
Preceded by
Spec Richardson
Houston Astros General Manager
19751980
Succeeded by
Al Rosen
Preceded by
Tim Purpura
Houston Astros General Manager
2007
Succeeded by
Ed Wade
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