Does Ozzie Smith really require an introduction?
The Hall of Famer is simply one of the best players to ever don a St. Louis Cardinals uniform as he did with the club from 1982 through 1996 and is doing again as a special instructor. In fact, back in 2007, we ranked “The Wizard” as the fifth-greatest Redbirds player of all time, after only Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and Rogers Hornsby. (Many more details about Smith’s career can be found in this article.)
As I wrote at the time, “Simply put, pound for pound, the Cardinals’ 150-pound shortstop was the best player of his era and under that criterion might have been the best to ever play the game.”
I had the opportunity to speak with Smith via phone on Tuesday afternoon. In the following interview, we touch on a number of topics. They include his return to active involvement with the Cardinals, his view of the 2012 major league club, young infield prospects in the system and specifically Tyler Greene, what his close friend Willie McGee has been up to, how PGA golf now stokes his competitive fires, his view of Whitey Herzog’s career recognition and his perspective on his frosty relationship with Tony La Russa.
Listen to audio: Ozzie Smith with Brian Walton (10:50)
The former Cardinals star has been seen regularly on national television as one of the stars of the Pepsi Max “Clubhouse in the Corn” commercials along with other Hall of Famers and current MLB stars. Smith has been participating in interviews to help draw attention to the second year of the Pepsi MAX Field of Dreams promotion.
We wrapped up the interview with me trying to get the now-57-year-old to disclose how his patented backflip was incorporated into the popular commercials. Ozzie remained a bit coy on that matter, however.
You can create an All-Star roster of your own with a salute to the living legends of the game, including Smith, of course. Now through June 30 at MLB.com/PepsiMAX, you can vote up to 25 times per day for your favorite players at each position, including starting pitchers and relievers.
Gibson, Musial and Bruce Sutter are among the 27 retired greats on this year’s NL ballot. There is separate AL voting available as well.
For each ballot cast, you will be entered to win the chance to play with the American and National League Pepsi MAX Field of Dreams Teams on your home turf next spring. The 2012 game will be held at Columbus, Ohio’s Huntington Park this coming Saturday, May 12.