Thursday, December 23, 2010

TTM Success- Lonnie Smith

I have to start by saying that Lonnie had a much longer and more interesting career in the Majors than I remembered. It's probably because, by the time he arrived in Baltimore in September 1993, he was mostly a part-time DH who played in just 44 games over almost a full season with the Birds split between the 1993 and strike-shortened 1994 seasons.

While doing some research on this post, I learned that Lonnie played 17 MLB seasons from 1978-94 with the Phillies, Cardinals, Royals, Braves, Pirates & Orioles, received MVP votes for three of those seasons, made the 1982 NL All-Star team, and came in third in the 1980 NL ROY balloting. He is also the only player in baseball history to play in the World Series with four different organizations (the '80 & '81 Phillies, '82 Cardinals, '85 Royals & '91 & '92 Braves) and to win a World Series Championship with three different teams in the same decade (the '80 Phillies, '82 Cardinals & '85 Royals). It has to have been a fun experience to be a member of so many great teams.

Lonnie's career also had it's share of dark times. He battled drug problems during his time with the Royals in the mid-80s and felt that he was being blackballed by the Royals GM, John Schuerholz, after his stint with the team. In a 2006 interview, Lonnie admitted that while he was depressed and high, he purchased a gun and briefly considered killing Schueholz, but luckily came to his senses and didn't act any further on it.

Lonnie was also nicknamed "Skates" due to his often awkward footwork while playing the outfield. Baseball historian Bill James suggested that Lonnie should teach a class in "defensive recovery and cost containment" since he spent so much of his time working on it.

Lonnie was kind enough to sign and personalize this card for me in only 17 days, even adding "Best Wishes". As far as I know, this is his only Orioles card, otherwise I would have sent him one that wasn't so dark; the black jersey and dark background don't make this very ideal for a signature but I need my O's cards signed. Thanks for signing Lonnie!


Anonymous said...

I remember Lonnie Smith's comeback with the Braves in the late 80s/early 90s. I'm very impressed by the time he devotes to his fan mail.

Orioles Magic said...

I agree, not many players who played for that long during those years sign that many requests.