Shortstop

Shortstop, abbreviated SS, is the baseball or softball fielding position between second and third base, which is considered to be among the most demanding defensive positions. Historically the position was assigned to defensive specialists who were typically poor at batting and were often placed at the bottom of the batting order. Today shortstops are often able to hit well and many are placed at the top of the lineup. In the numbering system used by scorers to record defensive plays, the shortstop is assigned the number 6.

More hit balls go to the shortstop than to any other position, as there are more right-handed hitters in baseball than left-handed hitters, and most hitters have a tendency to pull the ball slightly. Like a second baseman, a shortstop must be agile, for example when performing a 4-6-3 double play. Also, like a third baseman, the shortstop fields balls hit to the left side of the infield, where a strong arm is needed to throw out a batter-runner before they reach the safety of first base.

Baseball SS
The position of the shortstop
Troy Tulowitzki At Bat (25411527464)
Troy Tulowitzki, shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays (2015–2017)

History

Doc Adams of the Knickerbockers created the concept of the shortstop position, according to baseball historian John Thorn and Baseball Hall of Fame researcher Freddy Berowski.[1][2] In the first five years the Knickerbockers played, the team fielded anywhere from eight to eleven players. The only infielders were the players covering each of the bases; if there were more than eight players, extra outfielders were sometimes used. The outfielders had difficulty throwing baseballs into the infield, because of the balls' light weight. Adams' shortstop position, which he started playing at some time from 1849 to 1850, was used to field throws from the outfielders and throw to the three infielders.[1][3] With the advent of higher-quality baseballs, Adams moved to the infield, since the distance the balls could travel increased.[1] Adams had a long playing career with the Knickerbockers: he remained a player with the team until 1860.[4]

Positioning

Unlike the pitcher and catcher, who must start every play in a designated area (the pitcher must be on the pitcher's mound, with one foot in contact with the pitcher's rubber, and the catcher must be behind home plate in the catcher's box) the shortstop and the other fielders can vary their positioning in response to what they anticipate will be the actions of the batter and runner(s) once the play begins.[5]

The shortstop ordinarily is positioned near second base on the third-base side. Because right-handed hitters tend to hit the ball more toward third base, a shortstop will generally move closer to third base if the batter is batting right-handed, and more toward first base if the batter is batting left-handed. A shortstop typically has a strong throwing arm, because he has a relatively long throw to first base, and often has less time in which to make a throw, given that the ground balls he fields have often traveled relatively far. A shortstop must also be extremely agile, because balls hit to or near the shortstop position are usually hit harder than to other infield positions.

Shortstops are required to cover second base in double play situations when the ball is hit to the second baseman or first baseman. They also cover second when a runner is attempting a stolen base, but only when a left-handed hitter is batting because the infield will respond to a left-handed batter by shifting toward first base, resulting in the shortstop being the infielder who is closest to second base. Shortstops also must cover third at various times, including the rotation play; the latter occurs when there are runners on first and second and a sacrifice bunt is attempted toward third base, requiring the third baseman to move in away from third base in order to field it. Shortstops generally are given precedence on catching pop-ups in the infield as well, so they end up calling off other players many times, although on deep pop-ups they generally fall back when called off by an outfielder. They often become the cutoff man on balls to any part of the outfield that are being directed towards third base and all balls to left and center field that are destined for second base. Depending on the system the shortstop may cut balls from left field heading home; however, this is usually the job of the third baseman.

The emphasis on defense makes the position unusually difficult to fill. Historically, a strong shortstop did not have to be a good hitter. Some of the weakest hitters in Major League Baseball have played the position, including Mario Mendoza, for whom George Brett popularized the eponymous Mendoza Line to describe a batting average below .200. Since the 1960s, however, such mediocre hitting has become rarer as teams increasingly demand players with ability to both field and hit.[6]

In practice, a marginal fielder as a shortstop who hits well can be moved to almost any other position, especially second base or third base, whether early in their careers (examples: George Brett and Mike Schmidt were both tried early in their careers as shortstops)[7][8] or later due to diminished fielding range, slower reflexes, weaker throwing arms, increased risk of injury, or co-existence with another dominant shortstop, as with Ernie Banks, Cal Ripken Jr., Alex Rodríguez, Michael Young, or Miguel Tejada.

Significant shortstops

Shortstops inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame

The year in which the player was inducted is given in brackets after his name.

Notes

  1. John Henry Lloyd and Willie Wells were elected for their play in the Negro Leagues.
  2. George Wright was elected as a pioneer, but also starred as a shortstop in the 1860s and 1870s.
  3. Robin Yount started his career as a shortstop, and moved to the outfield where he played his last nine seasons. (Besides winning the MVP award as a shortstop in 1982, Yount also won the award as a centerfielder in 1989.)
  4. Ernie Banks played shortstop for the first half of his career and first base for the remainder.
Jetershortstop
Yankees former shortstop Derek Jeter getting ready to field his position in 2007

Multiple Gold Glove Award winners

All-time single season assist leaders among shortstops

Omar Vizquel at Wrigley Field
Venezuelan Omar Vizquel with the San Francisco Giants in 2008.
  1. Ozzie Smith: 621 (San Diego Padres, 1980)
  2. Glenn Wright: 601 (Pittsburgh Pirates, 1924)
  3. Dave Bancroft: 598 (Philadelphia Phillies/New York Giants, 1920)
  4. Tommy Thevenow: 597 (St. Louis Cardinals, 1926)
  5. Iván DeJesús: 595 (Chicago Cubs, 1977)
  6. Cal Ripken Jr.: 583 (Baltimore Orioles, 1984)
  7. Whitey Wietelmann: 581 (Boston Braves, 1943)
  8. Dave Bancroft: 579 (New York Giants, 1922)
  9. Rabbit Maranville: 574 (Boston Braves, 1914)
  10. Don Kessinger: 573 (Chicago Cubs, 1968)

Source:[9] (does not list teams)

All-time single season putout leaders among shortstops

  1. Donie Bush: 425 (Detroit Tigers, 1914)
  2. Hughie Jennings: 425 (Baltimore Orioles [National League], 1895)
  3. Joe Cassidy: 408 (Washington Senators, 1905)
  4. Rabbit Maranville: 407 (Boston Braves, 1914)
  5. Dave Bancroft: 405 (New York Giants, 1922)
  6. Eddie Miller: 405 (Boston Braves, 1940)
  7. Monte Cross: 404 (Philadelphia Phillies, 1898)
  8. Dave Bancroft: 396 (New York Giants, 1921)
  9. Mickey Doolan: 395 (Philadelphia Phillies, 1906)
  10. Buck Weaver: 392 (Chicago White Sox, 1913)

All-time single-season fielding percentage leaders among shortstops

  1. Mike Bordick: .9982 (Baltimore Orioles, 2002)
  2. Cal Ripken Jr.: .9956 (Baltimore Orioles, 1990)
  3. Omar Vizquel: .9954 (Cleveland Indians, 2000)
  4. Rey Sánchez: .9941 (Kansas City Royals, 2000)
  5. Rey Ordóñez: .9938 (New York Mets, 1999)
  6. Omar Vizquel: .9933 (San Francisco Giants, 2006)
  7. Omar Vizquel: .9931 (Cleveland Indians, 1998)
  8. J. J. Hardy: .9923 (Baltimore Orioles, 2012)
  9. Tony Fernández .9919 (Toronto Blue Jays, 1989)
  10. Rey Sánchez: .9915 (Kansas City Royals, 2001)

Number of seasons with 100+ double plays turned at shortstop (among Hall of Fame shortstops)

Source: baseballreference.com

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Thorn, John. "Doc Adams". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
  2. ^ Miller, Robert (September 26, 2009). "The Ridgefield man who helped invent baseball". The News-Times. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  3. ^ Miller, Robert (September 26, 2009). "'Doc' Adams legacy; The position of shortstop". The News-Times. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  4. ^ Thorn, John (2011). Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game. Simon & Schuster. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-7432-9403-4.
  5. ^ Baseball Explained, by Phillip Mahony. McFarland Books, 2014. See www.baseballexplained.com Archived 2014-08-13 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Seminara, Dave (2010-07-06). "Branded for life with 'The Mendoza Line'". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  7. ^ "George Brett Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  8. ^ "Mike Schmidt Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  9. ^ "Single-Season Leaders & Records for Assists as SS". Baseball-Reference.com. USA Today Sports Media Group. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
1968 Major League Baseball draft

The 1968 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft took place prior to the 1968 MLB season. The draft saw the New York Mets take shortstop Tim Foli first overall.

1987 Major League Baseball draft

The Major League Baseball Draft is the process by which Major League Baseball (MLB) teams select athletes to play for their organization. High school seniors, college juniors and seniors, and anyone who had never played under a professional contract were considered eligible for the draft. The 1987 MLB Draft took place as a conference call to the Commissioner of Baseball's office in New York from June 2–4. As opposed to the National Football League Draft which appeared on ESPN, no network aired the MLB Draft.

The American League (AL) and the National League (NL) alternated picks throughout the first round; because an NL team drafted first in the 1986 MLB Draft, an AL team had the first selection in 1987. Having finished 67–95 in 1986, the Seattle Mariners had the worst record in the AL and thus obtained the first overall selection. The second selection went to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who had the worst record in the NL.

With the first overall pick, the Mariners drafted Ken Griffey, Jr. from Moeller High School. Griffey, Jr. became a 13-time All-Star and helped Seattle make its first postseason appearance in franchise history. Mark Merchant, the second overall pick, however, never played in a major league game. Two years after he was drafted, the Pirates traded Merchant to Seattle. Chicago White Sox' first overall selection Jack McDowell won the 1993 Cy Young Award as Chicago made a League Championship Series appearance that year. The total number of athletes drafted, 1,263, broke a record for the most players ever chosen in a draft. In total, 27 All-Stars were selected in 1987, although not all signed a professional contract. As of 2016, only two players from the draft has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame– Craig Biggio and Griffey, Jr.

2012 Major League Baseball draft

The 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft was held from June 4 through June 6, 2012, from Studio 42 of the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey. The Houston Astros, with the first overall pick, selected Carlos Correa from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School.

2013 Major League Baseball draft

The 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft was held from June 6 through June 8, 2013. The first two rounds were broadcast from Studio 42 of the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Each team received one selection per round, going in reverse order of the 2012 MLB season final standings. In addition, teams could receive compensation draft picks if they had made a qualifying offer to a free agent player from their team, and the player rejected the offer and signed with another team.

2014 Major League Baseball draft

The 2014 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft was held from June 5 through June 7, 2014, to assign amateur baseball players to MLB teams. The first two rounds were conducted on June 5, followed by rounds three through ten on June 6, and the last 30 rounds on June 7. It was broadcast from Studio 42 of the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey.

The draft order was the reverse order of the 2013 MLB regular season standings. As the Astros finished the 2013 season with the worst record, they had the first overall selection for the third consecutive year. In addition, the Toronto Blue Jays got the 11th pick, as compensation for failing to sign Phil Bickford, the 10th overall selection of the 2013 MLB Draft. The St. Louis Cardinals got bumped from #30 to #31 because although tied with the Boston Red Sox for most wins in the 2013 regular season, the Red Sox had fewer wins in 2012.

Kansas City Royals first round draft pick Brandon Finnegan made his Major League debut on September 6, 2014, the first player to reach the majors from the 2014 draft class, with Carlos Rodon the second. Rodon first appeared for the Chicago White Sox on April 21, 2015. Finnegan became the first player to play in both the College World Series, for TCU, and the MLB World Series, for Kansas City, in the same year. Kyle Schwarber was the first position player to reach the majors from the 2014 draft class doing so June 16, 2015.

2015 Major League Baseball draft

The 2015 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft was held from June 8 through June 10, 2015, to assign amateur baseball players to MLB teams. The draft order is the reverse order of the 2014 MLB season standings. As the Diamondbacks finished the 2014 season with the worst record, they had the first overall selection. In addition, the Houston Astros had the 2nd pick of the 2015 draft, as compensation for failing to sign Brady Aiken, the first overall selection of the 2014 MLB Draft.

Twelve free agents received and rejected qualifying offers of $15.3 million for the 2015 season, entitling their teams to compensatory draft choices if they are signed by another team. The team signing the player will lose their first round choice, though the first ten picks are protected. The New York Mets surrendered their first round pick (15th overall) to sign Michael Cuddyer, while the Colorado Rockies gained a supplementary pick. The Toronto Blue Jays lost their pick for signing Russell Martin, giving a compensatory pick to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Boston Red Sox surrendered their second- and third-round picks (Boston's first pick is protected) to sign Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramírez. The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers received supplementary picks.Dean Kremer became the first ever Israeli drafted in an MLB draft, when selected in the 39th round, by the Padres.

2016 Major League Baseball draft

The 2016 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft began on June 9, 2016, to assign amateur baseball players to MLB teams.

The draft order is the reverse order of the 2015 MLB season standings. In addition, compensation picks will be distributed for players who did not sign from the 2015 MLB Draft. The Philadelphia Phillies received the first overall selection. The Los Angeles Dodgers received the 36th pick as compensation for failing to sign Kyle Funkhouser, the 35th overall selection of the 2015 MLB Draft.Teams from the smallest markets and revenue pools are eligible for competitive balance draft picks. The first six picks, Round A, were determined by lottery between the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, and St. Louis Cardinals. The six preceding teams that do not receive a pick in Round A were entered into a second lottery, with the Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, and Seattle Mariners, to receive the six picks in Round B. The twelve competitive balance draft picks are the only picks allowed to be traded. The Reds received the first pick in Round A, followed by the Athletics, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Marlins, and Pirates. The Padres received the first pick of Round B, followed by the Indians, Twins, Brewers, Orioles, and Rays.

2017 Major League Baseball draft

The 2017 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft began on June 12, 2017. The draft assigned amateur baseball players to MLB teams. The first 36 picks, including the first round and compensatory picks, were broadcast on MLB Network on June 12, while the remainder of the draft was live streamed on MLB.com on June 13 and 14.With the worst record in the 2016 MLB season, the Minnesota Twins received the first overall pick. Compensation picks were distributed for players who did not sign from the 2016 MLB Draft. Also, fourteen small-market teams competed in a lottery for additional competitive balance picks, with six teams receiving an additional pick after the first round, and eight teams receiving an additional pick after the second round. The Twins selected Royce Lewis with the first overall selection.

2018 Major League Baseball draft

The 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft began on June 4, 2018. The draft assigned amateur baseball players to MLB teams. The draft order was determined based on the reverse order of the 2017 MLB season final standings. In addition, compensation picks were distributed for players who did not sign from the 2017 MLB Draft and for teams who lose qualifying free agents. The first 43 picks, including the first round and compensatory picks, were broadcast by MLB Network on June 4. The remainder of the draft was streamed on MLB.com on June 5 and 6.

With a tie for the worst record in the 2017 MLB season at 64–98, the Detroit Tigers received the first overall pick ahead of the San Francisco Giants via a tiebreaker. The Detroit Tigers selected Casey Mize with the first overall pick in the draft. There were a total of 40 rounds in the draft, with 1,214 players selected.

2019 Major League Baseball draft

The 2019 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft was held June 3–5, 2019. The draft assigned amateur baseball players to MLB teams. The draft order was set based on the reverse order of the 2018 MLB season standings. In addition, compensation picks were distributed for players who did not sign from the 2018 MLB Draft and for teams that lost qualifying free agents. The first 41 picks, including the first round and compensatory picks, were broadcast by MLB Network on June 3, and the second round was streamed on MLB.com directly following the first round. The remainder of the draft was streamed online on June 4–5.

The Baltimore Orioles, who had the worst record of the 2018 MLB season, selected Adley Rutschman with the first overall pick in the draft. The Atlanta Braves received the ninth overall pick as compensation for failing to sign Carter Stewart. The Arizona Diamondbacks received the 26th overall pick as compensation for failing to sign Matt McLain. The Los Angeles Dodgers received the 31st overall pick as compensation for not signing J. T. Ginn. The Pittsburgh Pirates received the 37th overall pick for failing to sign Gunnar Hoglund. As a result of surpassing the luxury tax threshold by over $40 million, the Boston Red Sox' top pick dropped down 10 places in the draft.

Baseball positions

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. Within the game there are positions in which each player can play in.

There are nine fielding positions in baseball. Each position conventionally has an associated number, which is used to score putouts:

1 (pitcher), 2 (catcher), 3 (first baseman), 4 (second baseman), 5 (third baseman), 6 (shortstop), 7 (left fielder), 8 (center fielder), and 9 (right fielder).For example:

If the third baseman fields a ball and throws it to first, it is recorded as a 5-3 out.

A double play where the second baseman fields, throws to the shortstop covering second base, who throws to the first baseman, is recorded as a 4-6-3 double play. This is not the only way to make a double play.

Cal Ripken Jr.

Calvin Edwin Ripken Jr. (born August 24, 1960), nicknamed "The Iron Man", is an American former baseball shortstop and third baseman who played 21 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Baltimore Orioles (1981–2001). One of his position's most offensively productive players, Ripken compiled 3,184 hits, 431 home runs, and 1,695 runs batted in during his career, and he won two Gold Glove Awards for his defense. He was a 19-time All-Star and was twice named American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP). Ripken holds the record for consecutive games played, 2,632, surpassing Lou Gehrig's streak of 2,130 that had stood for 56 years and that many deemed unbreakable. In 2007, he was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility and currently has the fifth highest voting percentage of all time (98.53%).

Born in Maryland, Ripken grew up traveling around the United States as his father, Cal Sr., was a player and coach in the Orioles' organization. After playing at Aberdeen High School, Ripken Jr. was drafted by the Orioles in the second round of the 1978 MLB draft. He reached the major leagues in 1981 as a third baseman, but the following year, he was shifted to shortstop, his long-time position for Baltimore. That year, Ripken also won the AL Rookie of the Year Award and began his consecutive games played streak. In 1983, he won a World Series championship and his first AL MVP Award. One of Ripken's best years came in 1991 when he was named an All-Star, won the Home Run Derby, and was recipient of his first All-Star Game MVP Award, his second AL MVP Award, and first Gold Glove Award. He broke the consecutive games played record on September 6, 1995, in his 2,131st consecutive game, which fans voted as the league's "most memorable moment" in the history of the game in an MLB.com poll; Ripken voluntarily ended his 17-year streak at 2,632 games, in 1998. He switched back to third base for the final five years of his career. In 2001, his final season, Ripken was named the All-Star Game MVP and was honored with the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award.

Ripken is considered one of the best shortstops and third basemen in baseball history. At 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m), 225 lb (102 kg), he pioneered the way for the success of taller, larger shortstops. He holds the record for most home runs hit as a shortstop (345) breaking the record previously held by Ernie Banks and was selected as the starting shortstop for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. Ripken is a best-selling author and the President and CEO of Ripken Baseball, Inc., whose goal is to grow the love of baseball from a grassroots level. Since his retirement, he has purchased three minor league baseball teams. He has been active in charity work throughout his career and is still considered an ambassador of the game. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland and is married to Laura Ripken, nee Kaufman, a circuit court judge in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

Derek Jeter

Derek Sanderson Jeter ( JEE-tər; born June 26, 1974) is an American former professional baseball shortstop, businessman, and baseball executive. He has been the chief executive officer (CEO) and part owner of the Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball (MLB) since September 2017.

As a shortstop, Jeter spent his entire 20-year MLB playing career with the New York Yankees. A five-time World Series champion, Jeter is regarded as one of the primary contributors to the Yankees' success of the late 1990s and early 2000s for his hitting, baserunning, fielding, and leadership. He is the Yankees' all-time career leader in hits (3,465), doubles (544), games played (2,747), stolen bases (358), times on base (4,716), plate appearances (12,602) and at bats (11,195). His accolades include 14 All-Star selections, five Gold Glove Awards, five Silver Slugger Awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, and a Roberto Clemente Award. Jeter was the 28th player to reach 3,000 hits and finished his career ranked sixth in MLB history in career hits and first among shortstops. In 2017, the Yankees retired his uniform number 2.

The Yankees drafted Jeter out of high school in 1992, and he debuted in the major leagues at age 21 in 1995. The following year, he became the Yankees' starting shortstop, won the Rookie of the Year Award, and helped push the team to win the 1996 World Series. Jeter continued to play during the team's championship seasons of 1998–2000; he finished third in voting for the American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in 1998, recorded multiple career-high numbers in 1999, and won both the All-Star Game MVP and World Series MVP Awards in 2000. He consistently placed among the AL leaders in hits and runs scored for most of his career, and served as the Yankees' team captain from 2003 until his retirement in 2014. Throughout his career, Jeter contributed reliably to the Yankees' franchise successes. He holds many postseason records, and has a .321 batting average in the World Series. Jeter earned the nicknames of "Captain Clutch" and "Mr. November" due to his outstanding play in the postseason.

Jeter was one of the most heavily marketed athletes of his generation and is involved in numerous product endorsements. As a celebrity, his personal life and relationships with other celebrities has drawn the attention of the media.

Infielder

An infielder is a baseball player stationed at one of four defensive "infield" positions on the baseball field.

List of programs broadcast by Disney XD

This is a list of television programs that are formerly and currently broadcast by the children's cable television channel Disney XD in the United States.

Omar Vizquel

Omar Enrique Vizquel González (Spanish pronunciation: [oˈmaɾ βisˈkel]; born April 24, 1967), nicknamed "Little O", is a Venezuelan former professional baseball shortstop. During his 24-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career, Vizquel played for the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays. In Venezuela he played for Leones del Caracas. From 2014 to 2017, he was the Detroit Tigers' first-base, infield and baserunning coach.

Widely considered one of baseball's all-time best fielding shortstops, Vizquel won eleven Gold Glove Awards, including nine consecutive from 1993–2001. Among shortstops, his .985 fielding percentage is tied for highest all-time, he is the all-time leader in games played, and the all-time leader in double plays turned. Vizquel tied Cal Ripken, Jr.'s American League record for most consecutive games at shortstop without an error (95, between September 26, 1999 and July 21, 2000), since surpassed. Vizquel is the all-time hits leader among players from Venezuela (2,877; 43rd all-time), and the shortstop with the third-most hits all time, behind Derek Jeter and Honus Wagner. Vizquel is the sacrifice hit leader of the live-ball era.

At the time of his retirement, Vizquel was the oldest player in the Major Leagues, and the only active player with service time in the 1980s. He is one of only 29 players in baseball history to play in Major League games in four decades, and the only one who played shortstop. On May 7, 2012, Vizquel became the oldest player to play at shortstop in the Major League history, surpassing Bobby Wallace, who played 12 games with the St. Louis Cardinals at the age of 44 in 1918.

Ozzie Smith

Osborne Earl Smith (born December 26, 1954) is an American former baseball shortstop who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals from 1978 to 1996. Nicknamed "The Wizard" for his defensive brilliance, Smith set major league records for career assists (8,375) and double plays (1,590) by a shortstop (the latter since broken by Omar Vizquel), as well as the National League (NL) record with 2,511 career games at the position; Smith won the NL Gold Glove Award for play at shortstop for 13 consecutive seasons (1980–92). A 15-time All-Star, he accumulated 2,460 hits and 580 stolen bases during his career, and won the NL Silver Slugger Award as the best-hitting shortstop in 1987. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2002. He was also elected to the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame in the inaugural class of 2014.

Smith was born in Mobile, Alabama, but his family moved to Watts, Los Angeles, when he was six years old. While participating in childhood athletic activities, Smith developed quick reflexes; he went on to play baseball in high school and college, at Los Angeles' Locke High School and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo respectively. Drafted as an amateur player by the Padres, Smith made his major league debut in 1978. He quickly established himself as an outstanding fielder, and later became known for performing backflips on special occasions while taking his position at the beginning of a game. Smith won his first Gold Glove Award in 1980, and made his first All-Star Game appearance in 1981. When conflict with Padres' ownership developed, he was traded to the Cardinals for shortstop Garry Templeton in 1982.

Upon joining the Cardinals, Smith helped the team win the 1982 World Series. Three years later, his game-winning home run during Game 5 of the 1985 National League Championship Series prompted broadcaster Jack Buck's "Go crazy, folks!" play-by-play call. Despite a rotator cuff injury during the 1985 season, Smith posted career highs in multiple offensive categories in 1987. Smith continued to earn Gold Gloves and All-Star appearances on an annual basis until 1993. During 1995 season, Smith had shoulder surgery and was out nearly three months. After tension with his new manager Tony La Russa developed in 1996, Smith retired at season's end, and his uniform number (No. 1) was subsequently retired by the Cardinals.

Smith served as host of the television show This Week in Baseball from 1997 to 1998.

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