George J. Smith
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 175 lb.
- Debut April 17, 1884
- Final Game October 9, 1898
- Born April 20, 1859 in Pittsburgh, PA USA
- Died December 1, 1927 in Altoona, PA USA
Shortstop Germany Smith broke in with a team that didn't last long, the Union Association's Altoona Mountain City. Listed at age 21, he was actually four years older and was one of the best players on the team. Many years later he would die in Altoona, PA, but before then he went on to have a long major league career, playing fifteen seasons.
Sporting Life referred to him as George Smith during the first part of his career and Germany Smith later in his career.
Smith went from Altoona to the National League, but after that he spent five years in the American Association before his Brooklyn team moved to the National League. Smith then spent the rest of his major league career in the National League, mostly with the Cincinnati Reds.
Smith had excellent range in the infield, but was a weak hitter. Perhaps most notoriously, at age 38 in 1897 he hit .201 for team that hit .325 in a league that hit .292. In his best year with the bat, 1887, he hit .294 in a league that hit .273.
In 1899 and 1900 he played for the Minneapolis Millers with quite a few former and future major leaguers. In 1900 he hit .258, nine points below player-manager Walt Wilmot. After his major and minor league career, he played independent ball for Altoona.
It is said that when Phenomenal Smith made his debut with Brooklyn, a number of players resented the choice, and that Smith and catcher Jackie Hayes each made seven errors intentionally as a kind of protest.
"For a man that has played ball for twenty years, 'Germany' Smith gets over the ground with startling rapidity." - Sporting Life, June 2, 1900