Today marks the 63rd birthday of Hall of Famer Michael Jack Schmidt. Born in Dayton, Ohio on September 27th, 1949, Schmidt is best remembered for his seventeen years of service with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 70s and 80s. Even after his retirement, Schmidt worked for the Phillies organization as a hitting coach and manager for its Single A team, the Clearwater Threshers.
Schmidt is an icon in the city of Philadelphia. He led the 1980 Phillies to a World Series Championship, the first and only Baseball World Championship in the city’s history at the time. His #20 jersey is retired by the team and he even has his own statue outside of Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia. Even nationally, Schmidt is regarded as one of, if not, the best third baseman to ever play the game. He combined freak athleticism with raw power at a position that was typically reserved for smaller, defensive oriented players.
Over seventeen seasons, Schmidt hit 548 home runs while winning ten gold glove awards. Until Schmidt, only Harmon Killebrew and Eddie Matthews hit 500+ homers as a third baseman, and Killebrew played more first base than third. Schmidt’s ten gold gloves only trails Brooks Robinson for most career gold gloves by a third baseman. Schmidt hit a career .267, knocked in 1,595 runs and scored 1,506 runs. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995 as a first ballot selection.
Happy Birthday Mike!
Twenty four years ago today, Michael Jack Schmidt launched a towering 3 run home run. It was only the 11th game of the 1987 season, but it was a historical home run on a few levels. First, it was a prime example of Schmidt’s clutch hitting. This particular blast came in the top of the ninth, there were 2 outs and 2 runners on with the Phillies down 5-6 against the Pirates. Schmidt’s home run would prove to be the game winning hit as the Phillies would go on to win 8-6. Secondly, and most importantly, this particular home run was Schmidt’s 500th career homer.
At the time, Schmidt became only the 14th player to hit 500 home runs (currently there are 25 members of the 500 HR club). Of the 14, Schmidt was only the second pure 3rd baseman to hit 500 along with Eddie Mathews (Harmon Killebrew played a little 3B but also played a few other positions). Schmidt was 1 of 13 right handers to hit 500 homeruns, and of the remaining 12 in the 500 HR club, 10 were left-handed and 2 were switcher hitters. Schmidt was 37 years, 203 days old and had played in 7,336 games across 15+ seasons when he hit his 500th homer. He currently sits 15th overall on the career homeruns list.