Lonnie Smith has one of the most interesting stories of any athlete ever. In his time, he was always talked about, and a lot of MLB fans in the 1980s thought he could have been one of the greatest players to ever play baseball. Smith started playing professional baseball in 1974 in the minor leagues with Auburn in the New York-Penn League. The next year he played for Spartanburg and ending up leading the league in hits, runs, and stolen bases. The following couple of years he found success playing for Oklahoma City. However, it was not till he got to the big leagues where his publicity went off the charts.
Smith began his major league career with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980. In his first year, he shined with the major league team. He was able to hit .339 in 100 games and help the Phillies win the world series in 1980. Smith ended up finishing 3rd in rookie of the year voting and he ended up putting up similar numbers in the following year. But perhaps the most intriguing part of Smith’s time with the Phillies is actually when he played against the Phillies. One time, Phillie’s mascot, the Philly Fanatic, was annoying Smith so much that he ended up attacking the mascot. In the process spraining both of the person’s ankles inside the suit. That is not even a fraction of the stories Smith had in his career.
Smith continued his decorated career by going to the St. Louis Cardinals. He continued having a great season with the cardinals and even finished 2nd in the National League MVP voting. Then in 1982, Smith helped the cardinals win the World Series. At that point in Smith’s career, he was considered one of the best players in the MLB. He continued to show out for the Cardinals in the 1983 season but a horrible secret was discovered about lots of players in the MLB, including Smith. The MLB discovered that many players were abusing drugs and many of them were suspended from the season. Smith might have been the worst of them as he was immediately put into rehab. It looked like Smith’s career was heading down.
After the 1984 season, Smith was traded once again to the Kansas City Royals. He did not put up the same numbers and stats he did in St. Louis, but he once again was a major contributor in helping the Kansas City Royals win the World Series. Smith was back on the rise, until the 1987 season came along. He was suspended from the 1987 season because he was caught to continue using drugs. After the 1987 season, Smith admitted to being depressed and being addicted to cocaine. He even brought a pistol because he wanted to kill the general manager of the royals, John Schuerholz. Just like that, Smith’s career was once again trending downwards.
Smith attempted to save his career one more time in a stretch with the Atlanta Braves. Smith did not hit well in the regular season of 1988. But 1989 was another incredible stretch for Smith. He was awarded the MLB comeback player of the year and helped the Braves make two World Series. After the 1994 season, Smith decided to retire. Even though Lonnie Smith had a lot of blunders and bad moments in his career, he also had some very memorable moments. He is the only player in MLB history to win three World Series titles in a ten year span. He was also named the National League’s runs scored champion with the Cardinals in 1982. The career of Lonnie Smith was certainly a odd one, but it was also unforgettable.