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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Interview with Cardinals Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith

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, 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.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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38 Responses to “Interview with Cardinals Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    It was good to see photos of Ozzie and Willie at spring training, cenjoying the opportunity to meet and talk baseball with young athletes. Since the Cards favor internal development, it is welcome for the team as well to have these fine ambassadors of the game more involved.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    Times must a little grim for the AAA team of the Padres to sign Kip Wells and Anthony Reyes.

  3. blingboy says:

    Enjoyed the audio, nice one Brian.

    Ozzie seemed less than bubbling with excitement when asked about Jackson. I also noticed he declined to name any one of the younger middle infield prospects.

    It sounds like he has a very full life and not exactly itching to get back into baseball in a bigger way. Still, maybe he will be a more visible alum as we go forward.

    What’s all this about Yadi? I’ll have to get to the P-D site next.

  4. blingboy says:

    Further down in the Yadi article in the PD a couple things caught my eye.

    Marte is said to be filling the role formerly held by McClellan, namely bridge guy who can face both lefties and righties. OK, so that leaves the question – what is McClellan’s role now?

    Berkman due back Friday, and Mike says Beltran will see some CF time once Lance is back. IMO, anything which might risk taking Beltran’s bat out of the lineup due to injury is madness. I know Craig needs to get in there, but not by exposing Beltran to needless risk. And taking Jay’s bat out of lineup is madness, too.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Giving Beltran a few starts in CF, only against LHPs, could be code for sending Robinson to Memphis, after Berkman is activated. Somebody has to be sent down to allow Lance to return.

      • blingboy says:

        Probably right, Jumbo. As soon as Robinson cooled a bit with the bat he was riding the pine. It is great to have more productive players than spots for them.

        • Kansasbirdman says:

          Update from last night’s game: Robinson hit a bunch of long balls off or real near the wall (none but Craigs went out for either team with the roof closed at chase field) and made some spectacular catches in center near the wall, over the shoulder, he also had a nice throw out at home from center (though the first run for the Dbacks came when he missed to the left side of home on a throw-out attempt) and then had a clutch hit later in the game, I think he only ended up with one hit but he looked pretty good. It is going to be tough to decide who goes back to AAA. Carpenter was clutch with a 2 out and 2 rbi hit that broke the 1-1 tie (against the lefty Miley too).

          • JumboShrimp says:

            Good point about Carpenter’s collecting double against a lefty. This is something Carpenter brings to the table: he can take lefties effectively to opposite field, so he can pinch-hit against anyone. Robinson is a nice fit for a platoon with Jay. The Cards are fortunate to have more good players than roster spots. Matheny does not have an easy job choosing who to send out, however, a choice must be made.

  5. blingboy says:

    Random thought: Is anyone calling the Phillies the Yankees of the NL anymore?

  6. blingboy says:

    A win for Kyle tonight puts him at .500 for his career. He’s been below since July, 2005. Good luck.

  7. WesPowell says:

    I still get a kick out of people that, when Ozzie is brought up, gush non-stop about the defensive wizardry. While those praises are certainly earned, deserved, and appropriate, let us remember something else, and not forget it, and bring it up too from time to time.

    With the Cardinals Ozzie had 3 straight years starting in 1985 with 1651 at bats and a combined .287 batting average. Then 3 years after that, starting in 1991 at 36 years old, started another 3 year run with 1613 at bats with an average of .290. He scored 104 runs, with 40 doubles, and 75 RBIs in one season. He knocked in 50 or more 8 other times, from non-RBI lineup slots. He stole 580 bases. He drew over 1000 walks and had over 2,400 hits. He sacrificed nearly 300 times. He scored 1257 runs and his runs scored plus RBIs was 2050. 499 extra base hits.

    Yes, he was the all-time defensive shortstop. The other part is that he made himself into an outright offensive force. A dangerous man in the lineup.

  8. WesPowell says:

    My comment for our current Cardinal team is this—- 110 walks drawn, 66 walks given–with less than 1 error committed for every two games.. If those ratios are maintained for the remainder of the season I’d say 100 wins is very likely.

  9. WesPowell says:

    Earlier in this thread someone asked this—-“Random thought: Is anyone calling the Phillies the Yankees of the NL anymore?”

    I don’t know. Let’s wait for the Yankees to become the Cardinals of the AL. We have beaten them in 3 of 5 world series. In the 1920’s we beat the Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri gang. In the 1940’s we beat the Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Bill Dickey bunch. And in the 1960’s we beat the Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford team.

  10. JumboShrimp says:

    Furcal has gotten off to an amazing start in 2012, with a batting average at .361. While Raffy has had a fantastic ML career, including 3 partial or full seasons at .300 or better, it is unlikely he can keep up the present pace. He plays the game hard, stealing bases and fielding, so is likely to wear down. In recent years, he had some injury marred campaigns. Right now, he must be feeling fit and strong.

  11. PUJ-WHO says:

    i think its so sweet that as a team wer abttin .315 while PUJOLS is strugglin to stay above the mendoza line at .205….bet he wishes he woulda stayed in Cardinal Nation its really gonna be sweet when he has 2 sit at home and watch us win another WS this year

  12. crdswmn says:

    For Bling’s (or anyone else’s) viewing enjoyment:

    Albert Pujols gets mad at Erick Aybar

    • Kansasbirdman says:

      Machines don’t get mad or otherwise have feelings.

    • blingboy says:

      After a two hit two RBI night, Schmalbert only has to lose 32 lbs to be hitting his weight. So I would like to announce “The Contest Whose Name Cannot Be Mentioned” to guess the date on which his avg reaches .230, his weight as listed in BBRef. The winner is whoever’s guess is closest. No fair guessing December 26. (Can anyone guess why?) I will start things off by guessing June 26. (Can anyone guess why?) Good luck.

      • Kansasbirdman says:

        Mario Mendoza was born Dec 26? Or batting averages reset at that time between seasons? June 26 is six months from Dec 26.

        The Angels play the Dodgers and Orioles in the days before the 26th of June, risky bet. Isn’t around June 26th when TPWNCBM’s ba rose above his weight last year?

        I will repeat my position that I hope he continues to break all the regular season records, just never gets to the post season. I want the Cardinals to have all the success there!

        I’ll take June 11th. They play the rockies right before, an NL team he has faced.

        For the Contest, we are all talking about 2012 right? Shame on me :-0

        • blingboy says:

          I’m impressed Kansas. Figured Mario Mendoza’s birthday would be a stumper. And yes, I’m talking about 2012. Of course, “never” would be an acceptable answer, meaning never this season. I have you down for June 11.

          • Kansasbirdman says:

            In my family we celebrate lines of mediocrity, for us December 26th is a bigger holiday than the day before! jk. We celebrate Festivus 😉

            Actually, a google search for batting average and December 26 got me to the result. I should probably get back to work. 🙁

      • friendmouse says:

        I’ll conjecture it will AGAIN/NEXT occur on June 1, 2012…probably around 10:18 P.M. CST. Of course, his 2012 BA has been at / above his weight several times already this year.

        And heck, no, I cannot guess why you’re guessing June 26, except that’s your best guess of when the inevitable(?) will happen. They play the O’s that night, for whatever that means.

        • blingboy says:

          Very interesting that both friend and Kansas chose anniversary dates of Nolan Ryan no-hitters. June 1 is also the date on which Lou Gehrig began his consecutive games streak. Great choice friend, but not too far off. Fat Scmelvis better pick it up.

      • crdswmn says:

        I will take June 28 because it is my late sister’s birthday.

        What is the prize? 😉

      • crdswmn says:

        I will take June 28 because it is my late sister’s birthday.

        What is the prize? 😉

  13. blingboy says:

    Cinco de Mayo will be remembered as the day on which Jamie Moyer got his first hit of the season. In the second inning with a 2-2 count he lined one to LF off the Braves Mike Minor. After advancing to second on Marco Scutero’s single, Calros Gonzales drove him home for Jamie’s first run scored of the year.

    In his previous start, Moyer struck out 7 Mets in 5 innings.

  14. Nutlaw says:

    If I understand it correctly, PJ Walters just took Francisco Liriano’s rotation spot in Minnesota. That struck me as a very odd situation.

    • blingboy says:

      Why so? Liriano has been horrible.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Six pitchers have started games for the Twins this year. All have ERAs above 5, with the best being has beens Carl Pavano and Jason Marquis. Liriano’s ERA is over 9.
      This could be a great break for Walters. PJ is a respectable starting pitcher, he just needs a shot and the worst team in baseball is a good place to receive an opportunity to try to establish himself in the majors.

    • Nutlaw says:

      I know that Liriano has been horrible, and he is deservedly demoted, but when you go by potential, there is simply a huge gap there.

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