Willie Smith (smithwi02)
Willie Smith (Wonderful Willie)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 0", Weight 190 lb.
- Debut June 18, 1963
- Final Game September 26, 1971
- Born February 11, 1939 in Anniston, AL USA
- Died January 16, 2006 in Anniston, AL USA
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.