Colin Curtis two strike pinch hit appearance this week brought me back to some bad old day memories with the Yankees of the late 60′s and a two strike pinch hit appearance by a player named Charley Smith. Curtis as we all know blasted one into the seats two strikes and all, Charley Smith, well let’s go back and meet Charley….
Charley’s career spanned the 1960′s his first major league appearance was in 1960, with the Dodgers, his last in 1969, with the Cubs. If you were to look up the word journeyman in a baseball dictionary, Charley’s face might appear next to the definition. Between 1960 and 1969, Charley played for the Dodgers, Phillies, White Sox, Mets, Cardinals, Yankees, Giants (spring training 69) and the Cubs.
Charley’s career numbers, 771 games played, 2,686 plate appearances, 69 homers, 281 RBI, .239 BA with OBP of .279, while not spectacular were enough of an inducement to involve him in some pretty big name trades in the 1960′s. In 1961, Charley was traded by the Phillies to the White Sox for Roy Sievers, who led the American League in homers in 1957. In 1965 Smith was traded by the Mets to the Cardinals for 1964 NL MVP winner Ken Boyer. In 1966 he was on the move again this time to the Yankees for two time MVP (60, 61), single season home run champ, Roger Maris.
Charley’s stay with the Yanks was not a good time for anyone. Smith was brought in to replace the sure-handed Clete Boyer at third (he was even assigned Boyer’s number 6). He certainly was no Boyer in the field, or at the plate, his two year power totals, 10 homers and 45 RBI were less than Boyer’s final year in pinstripes. In fact (and now we come full circle) his only Yankee claim to fame was a mini pinch hit streak, he had five consecutive pinch hits and was closing in on the record at the time. It was late in the game, a Yankee batter (can’t remember the name) had a two strike count on him, Houk looking down the bench decided to pull a surprise move and go with his hot pinch hitter. He waved the batter back to the dugout and sent Smith up to the plate. This was it, Charley’s day in the sun had arrived (well not exactly, it was a night game), but alas it wasn’t to be, Charley struck out. Things were different for the Yankees in those days, most things didn’t have happy endings.
Charley is one of two players I can think of (the other is Dick Tidrow) who played for both New York teams and both Chicago teams, I don’t know if there are any others.