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Willie Smith (smithwi02)

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Willie Smith (Wonderful Willie)

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 190 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

Willie Smith was one of the last players to reach the big leagues as a pitcher-outfielder. Smith showed flashes of brilliance both on the mound and at the plate during several seasons in the Detroit Tigers' farm system. After briefly reaching the big leagues as a pitcher with the Tigers in 1963, Smith was traded to the Los Angeles Angels. 1964 was an interesting season as Smith turned in a 1-4 record with a 2.84 ERA and batted .301 with 11 home runs in 359 at bats. He started out as a pitcher, but showed so much talent handling a bat that the team decided to turn him into a full-time hitter. By the end of the season, the light-hitting Angels had installed Smith as their everyday left fielder. He also played for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, and Cincinnati Reds. Cubs fans recall his 10th-inning home run that won a wild 1969 Opening Day game, the first of many pulse-racing moments in that famed and fated season.

After his major league career was over, he went to Japan and played two seasons (1972-1973) in Osaka with the Nankai Hawks, batting .259/.317/.452 in 170 games with 29 homers and 90 RBIs. In addition, he also made two pitching appearaces, going 0-1.

He died in 2006 in his home town of Anniston, Alabama, the victim of an apparent heart attack.

[edit] Related Sites

http://www.japanbaseballdaily.com

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