Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dave Smith, 1955-2008. R.I.P.

Former major league pitcher Dave Smith died on December 17th of a heart attack in San Diego. He was only 53.

Smith pitched in the majors from 1980 to 1992. He spent most of his career with the Houston Astros where he saved 199 games, made three playoff teams (1980, 1981 and 1986) and was twice selected to the NL All Star Team (1986 & 1990). In 1986, Smith saved a career high 33 games. His final two seasons were spent with the Chicago Cubs. Smith would become involved with the San Diego Padres mostly as a minor league pitching instructor and served as the big league club's pitching coach between 1999 and 2001.

The Houston Astros made their first post-season appearance in the history of the franchise when they won the NL West in 1980. That was the first year I really followed baseball. Three pitchers from that team have died in just over two years - Joe Niekro, Vern Ruhle and now Smith. Several players who were involved in the 1980 World Series have passed on as well - Dan Quisenberry and Darrell Porter with the Kansas City Royals and Tug McGraw with the Philadelphia Phillies. Man, I remember watching these guys play on TV when I was a little boy.

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