Trade to Cardinals a perfect deal for Ozzie
What Herzog got was perhaps the best defensive shortstop ever.
On Dec. 10, 1981, Herzog – serving in the dual capacity as manager and general manager of the Cardinals – pulled off a blockbuster at the Winter Meetings in Hollywood, Fla., acquiring Ozzie Smith from the San Diego Padres. The deal took 62 days to complete and included five other players, but the transaction was essentially Smith for Garry Templeton.
“Ozzie is the key to getting the Cardinals in the World Series,” Smith’s agent, Ed Gottlieb, told the Associated Press.
Smith had just completed his fourth season with San Diego but was embroiled in a contract dispute with Padres owner Ray Kroc. Templeton was unhappy in St. Louis, so a trade made sense for both teams.
“Every player wants the ultimate,” Smith told The New York Times. “He wants to play for the championship of baseball.”
Smith, who led all NL shortstops in assists (535) and fielding percentage (.984) in 1982, won his third Gold Glove Award following the season and finished 13th in the NL Most Valuable Player Award voting.
The Cardinals quickly signed Smith to a long-term contract – a deal worth $3.6 million over three years. With that, Smith became the game’s highest paid shortstop.
Smith was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2002.
“I’ve been I this game for 32 years,” Herzog said when Smith signed his contract extension prior to the 1983 season. “I’ve never seen another shortstop like Ozzie.”
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum