|Birth||September 27, 1949|
|Debut||September 12, 1972, Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets, Veterans Stadium|
|Team(s)||Philadelphia Phillies (1972-1989)|
Michael Jack Schmidt (born September 27, 1949 in Dayton, Ohio) is a former professional baseball player, playing his entire career for the Philadelphia Phillies, and is widely regarded as the greatest third baseman in the history of baseball.
The early days
Mike Schmidt graduated from high school in 1967 and enrolled at Ohio University in Athens and became the Bobcats' best baseball player, primarily as a shortstop, while majoring in architecture. In 1971 he was drafted in the second round (30th overall) by the Phillies. In the draft pick immediately preceding him (29th), the Kansas City Royals selected high-schooler George Brett, another great third baseman and Hall of Famer of the same era, although a different type of hitter.
Rapidly progressing through the minor leagues, Schmidt joined the Phillies in 1972. In his first full season, 1973, Schmidt struggled and batted only .196; his rookie season was perhaps the worst ever posted by an eventual Hall of Famer.
He broke out in 1974, however, leading the National League in home runs and demonstrating astounding prowess with the glove. A patient and powerful hitter, Schmidt was best known for hitting many home runs and drawing many bases on balls. For the rest of the 1970s Schmidt excelled with bat and glove, winning two more home-run titles and a succession of Gold Gloves. He helped the Phillies win three straight division titles from 1976 to 1978, the team's first post-season appearances in 26 years.
is a member of
Hall of Fame
A tremendous third baseman, Schmidt had a powerful arm and was especially talented at fielding short grounders barehanded. His 404 assists in 1974 remain a record for third basemen. Schmidt also filled in at shortstop and first base when needed.
On June 10, 1974, Schmidt hit what should have been a home run when he hit the public address speaker that hung 117 feet above and 329 feet away from home plate at the Astrodome in Houston. The ball hit the speaker, fell to the field, and, by the Astrodome's ground rules, remained in play. Since Schmidt had already started his slow home-run trot, he was held to a single. (There were runners on 1st and 2nd when the ball was hit, and they each advanced only one base.) Many experts agree this ball would have traveled in excess of 500 feet.
In 1980, Schmidt elevated his game to astonishing heights, leading the league in home runs with 48 (a Phillies single-season record until Ryan Howard broke it in 2006) by a margin of 13, and winning the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in a unanimous vote. The Phillies reached the World Series and, for the first time in team history, won it, defeating the Kansas City Royals, led by none other than George Brett. Schmidt was selected as MVP of the World Series, hitting two homers and driving in seven runs.
Coincidentally, Schmidt broke the old club record for home runs in a season, Chuck Klein's 43 in 1929. That record stood for 51 years.
In 1981, the Phillies again reached the postseason and Schmidt won his second MVP Award.
In 1983, in celebration of the team's 100th anniversary, Schmidt was voted by fans as the greatest player in the history of the franchise, even though he still had five strong seasons ahead of him, including nearly 200 home runs. That year, Schmidt led the Phillies back to the World Series, but they were defeated by the Baltimore Orioles.
In 1986, Schmidt won his third MVP Award, a record for a third baseman. Mike Schmidt led the NL in home runs for the 8th time to break Ralph Kiner's record (2nd to Babe Ruth's 12 for most times leading a major league in home runs).
Injuries to Schmidt's knees and back caused him to miss much of the 1988 season. After a poor start to the 1989 season, Schmidt chose to suddenly announce his retirement in San Diego, on May 29. Known as "Captain Cool" by many in Philadelphia sports circles, Schmidt surprised many with his very emotional retirement speech during which he shed many tears (which has become very popular on morning radio shows like Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony). Despite his poor start and subsequent retirement, or because of it, fans again voted Schmidt to the NL All-Star team.
Over his career Schmidt set a vast array of hitting and fielding records. In addition to his MVP Awards, Schmidt won ten Gold Gloves, led the league in home runs eight times, in RBI four times, OPS five times, and walks four times. He was named to twelve All-Star teams. Schmidt finished his career with 548 home runs and 1,595 RBI, two of the many Phillies career records he holds.
In the year after his retirement, Schmidt spent one season as a member of the Phillies broadcast team on the now-defunct PRISM network. He was known as a very candid and honest broadcaster despite his limited experience in the area.
Schmidt opted, at first, to pursue a more private lifestyle after his career, rather than to become a manager or coach. He has written a number of articles on baseball for CBS and regularly participates in charity golf tournaments.
In 1999, he ranked number 28 on The Sporting News's list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, the highest-ranking third baseman, and the highest-ranking player whose career began after 1967 (Barry Bonds still being in the middle of his career). Later that year, he was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
His uniform number 20 has been retired by the Phillies, and he has been honored with a statue outside the third-base gate at the team's new home, Citizens Bank Park.
Schmidt has publicly expressed his thoughts on various baseball controversies. He has been a vocal advocate for the reinstatement of Pete Rose to baseball. In July 2005, he appeared on Bob Costas' HBO show Costas Now to discuss steroids, and said, "Let me go out on a limb and say that if I had played during that era I would have taken steroids... We all have these things we deal with in life, and I'm surely not going to sit here and say to you guys, 'I wouldn't have done that.'" In his 2006 book, "Clearing the Bases: Juiced Players, Shrinking Ballparks, Sham Records, and a Hall of Famer's Search for the Soul of Baseball", he somewhat recanted that statement, saying that he understood the desire to get a competitive advantage even though he could not condone breaking the rules to do so.
In 2002, Schmidt was hired by the Phillies to work for several weeks as a hitting coach, each spring training. In October 2003, Schmidt was named the manager of the Clearwater Threshers in the Florida State League, a Single A team within the Phillies minor league system. He managed them in the 2004 season and then resigned.
Style of play
A quiet, focused player, Schmidt demonstrated little emotion on the field and was perceived as being somewhat aloof. His relationship with Phillies fans was sometimes tumultuous early in his career, which Schmidt later regretted; it warmed late in his career. He had an unusual batting stance, turning his back somewhat to the pitcher and waving his posterior while waiting for the pitch. A strong, muscular man, Schmidt was one of the best athletes of his time; teammate Pete Rose once said, "To have his body, I'd trade him mine and my wife's and I'd throw in some cash." Unlike most power hitters, Schmidt tended to hit his homers to all fields; he is probably the most accomplished home run hitter in baseball history who had no tendency to pull the ball.
During his retirement, Schmidt played golf intensely, attempting unsuccessfully to join the Champions Tour, formerly known as the PGA Senior Tour.
- Always on the Offense, Antheneum, 1982. ISBN 0-689-11165-7. (With Barbara Walder.)
- The Mike Schmidt Study: Hitting Theory, Skills, and Technique, McGriff & Bell, 1994. ISBN 0-9634609-2-7. (With Rob Ellis.)
- The Mike Schmidt Study: Building a Hitting Foundation, McGriff & Bell, 1994. ISBN 0-9634609-3-5. (With Rob Ellis).
- Clearing the Bases: Juiced Players, Shrinking Ballparks, Sham Records, and a Hall of Famer's Search for the Soul of Baseball, HarperCollins Publishers, 2006. ISBN 0-06-085499-5.
- Batters with 4 home runs in one game
- MLB players who have hit 30 or more home runs before the All-Star break
- 500 home run club
- Top 500 home run hitters of all time
- DHL Hometown Heroes
- List of Players in Baseball Hall of Fame With Over 90% of the Vote
- Mike Schmidt Official Site Mike Schmidt's Official Site
- Mike Schmidt Official Blog Mike Schmidt's Official Blog
- Baseball Hall of Fame
- Baseball-Reference.com - Major league career statistics
- Career statistics Baseball-Almanac.com
- Hall of Fame voting All-time list by percentage
- Mike Schmidt home run log
|Major League Baseball | MLB All-Century Team|
Nolan Ryan | Sandy Koufax | Cy Young | Roger Clemens | Bob Gibson | Walter Johnson | Warren Spahn | Christy Mathewson | Lefty Grove