Bobby Gene Smith
Bobby Gene Smith
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 185 lb.
- Debut April 16, 1957
- Final Game October 3, 1965
- Born May 28, 1934 in Hood River, OR USA
- Died November 24, 2015 in Hood River, OR USA
Outfielder Bobby Gene Smith was signed as an amateur free agent by the St. Louis Cardinals before the 1953 season and spent his first season in pro ball with two clubs, spending 33 games with the Fresno Cardinals of the California League and 107 with the pennant-winning St. Joseph Cardinals of the Western Association. He hit .283 with 7 homers for St. Joseph, helping them in their pennant race. Bobby Gene hit .305 with nine homers for Fresno in 1954 and led the league with 179 base hits.
Bobby Gene was back with the pennant-winning Fresno Cardinals in 1955 leading the California League in two categories, hitting for a .370 average and RBIs with 141, plus smacking 18 homers and also playing in the outfield for the All-Star team. 1956 saw him again with a pennant winner, the Houston Buffaloes of the Texas League, where in 153 games he hit .299 with 21 homers, helping his team not only to the pennant but also the league playoff championship.
In 1957 he got his first shot at major league pitching with the St. Louis Cardinals.
"The Cardinals had a lot of Smiths in Spring Training. There was Hal Smith the catcher, and pitchers Bob Smith and Riverboat Smith. One of the coaches would call out "Smitty" and we'd all jump. I got tagged Bobby Gene and the name stuck the rest of my career. - Outfielder Bobby Gene Smith in an interview for Oldtyme Baseball News.
Bobby Gene was with the Cardinals for 93 games in 1957 but hit only .211 and in 1958 he appeared in 28 games, hitting .284. He spent the biggest part of that year with the Omaha Cardinals of the American Association where he hit .315 with 17 four-baggers and made the All-Star team. The outfielder was back with the Cardinals in 1959, appearing in 43 games but hitting only .217. He wound up being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies along with Bill Smith for Carl Sawatski on December 4, 1959.
Bobby did have his best year in the majors with the Phillies in 1960, hitting a career-high .286 in 98 games and in 1961 he hit .253 in 79 outings. In 1962 Bobby never got his suitcase unpacked as he suited up with three different clubs, the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs and back to the St. Louis Cardinals. He then came back three years later to play 23 games with the California Angels. That season ended his major league tour and he concluded with a .243 average and 13 homers in his 7 season major league run.
Smith had also spent 10 up and down years in his minor league travels, appearing in 1137 games, hitting 95 homers and had a minor league career batting average of .302. Bobby Gene ended his pro baseball run in 1967 at the age of 33 and went to work with the Pierce County office management department as a maintenance technician in Tacoma, WA. He retired in Surprise, Arizona but died in his hometown of Hood River, OR in 2015, aged 81.