Saturday, August 17, 2013
Unknown Heroes Before My Time Pt. 9: Lee Smith
Smith was picked up in a pretty good trade for the Red Sox. Boston sent Al Nipper and Calvin Schiraldi to the Cubs for Smith, making the call as soon as GM Lou Gorman learned he was on the block. Schiraldi and Nipper never did a whole lot after leaving Boston, meanwhile Lee Smith eventually developed into one of the best closers of all time.
Boston made the odd decision to sign Twins closer Jeff Reardon prior to the 1990 season despite inferior numbers. Apparently the idea was to have two closers ready and have a strong bullpen. Naturally that caused a little dissension and Smith was not happy. He appeared in 11 games for the Red Sox, going 2-1 with a 1.88 and four saves before being traded to the Cardinals for Tom Brunansky. Smith became the dominating, potential Hall of Famer in St. Louis.
Smith's tenure in Boston is not the first thing many people remember when they think of his Hall of Fame case, but he did have two strong seasons there. As a result there is an effect on the after-career cards of him. He has had exactly one card issued of him after his career with the Red Sox and that was a buyback card. He has never had an autograph or relic card with the Red Sox. That is unfortunate.