Remembering Reggie Smith for a Moment

I was just remembering Reggie Smith earlier and how much he owned.

For those that don’t remember or don’t know who Reggie Smith was, the dude owned. He was an outfielder who played in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. If you believe in a big Hall of Fame, he’d be on your ballot.

For his career, he was a .287/.366/.489 and he played during the ’60s and 70s, an era of very few good hitters. That’s a 137 OPS+ for that era and that’s third-highest among non-Hall members with more than 3,000 appearances in that time (Dick Allen, who should be in the Hall anyway, and Frank Howard are in front of him).

In his first year as a Dodger, 1977, he put up a .307/.427/.576 slash line in 600 plate appearances.

He continued with the power and average the next couple of years, but injuries slowed him. He was still part of the team in 1981, but had only 44 plate appearances.

Smith was also charismatic and an a-hole. He started fights, he argued, he was a real firebrand. He’d be an a-hole today, but he was a hero, according to Tommy Lasorda at the time.

I’m gonna shamelessly steal some of this from Wikipedia.

In the 1981 season as a member of the Dodgers, Smith was taunted by Giants fan Michael Dooley, who then threw a batting helmet at him. Smith then jumped into the stands at Candlestick Park and started punching him. He was ejected from the game, and Dooley was arrested.

Dodger Blues has this:

”It started in the sixth inning when I was stretching in front of the dugout,” said Dodger outfielder Reggie Smith. ”A fan said, ‘You stink, you have no class,’ so I said, ‘What does that make you if you’re talking to me?’ The fan said, ‘If I come down there I could get hurt and be out of my $40,000 a year job. But if I hurt you, it will hurt the Dodgers.”’

The fan, 37-year-old Michael Dooley, then picked up a souvenir batting helmet and threw it at Smith, who immediately jumped into the stands and began pounding him. As other fans and teammates joined the fracas, Smith tried to pull Dooley onto the field.

When the five-minute disturbance was ended, eight fans were taken into custody and Smith was ejected. As Smith was being escorted from the stadium, a fan threw a beer bottle in the direction of Smith, but it landed 10 to feet in front of him and he continued off the field without further incident. After being released from jail, Dooley was treated for injuries at Stanford University Hospital. ”His ribs and hand were injured,” Dooley’s wife said. ”He was being pulled into the field by the Dodgers and off the field by the cops, while he was being beaten by both.”

”Everybody who sits by the Dodger dugout razzles the hell out of them,” Mrs. Dooley said, defending her Giants-loving husband. ”It’s part of the rivalry and he hates the Dodgers so much.”

And then five months later, Smith signed with the Giants.

Smith even caused teammates to fight.

In the 1978 season, Dodger pitcher Don Sutton went public with comments that Smith was a more valuable player to the Dodgers than the more-celebrated Steve Garvey. This led to an infamous clubhouse wrestling match between Sutton and Garvey.

Hilariously, Sutton was right, though rumor had it that Sutton insulted Garvey and his wife.

Smith was a really cool guy and is sometimes lost in the Dodgers lore, often an afterthought of the ’70s Dodgers and the ’60s Red Sox. But he was an awesome ballplayer and an awesome dude for punching a Giants fan right in the face. (I’m kidding)

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2 Comments

Filed under Baseball Hall of Fame, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, MLB history

2 responses to “Remembering Reggie Smith for a Moment

  1. I met him once post-baseball, when he owned/ran an office supply business in the mid-1980s in LA. Granted he was in salesman mode, as befits a small business owner, but he was pretty accommodating.

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