Saturday, February 25, 2017

2017mfc Charley/Charlie Smith

2017 mfc Charley Smith•#65

1964 Topps
I never knew Charley Smith, the Mets third baseman in the mid 1960's, never saw him play, but I have a feeling I would have been a fan.

His twenty home runs that led the team in 1964 would have won me over pretty thoroughly, although his strike out rate would have drove me bonkers. Like with many Mets players over the years, I've learned to live with the bad and appreciate the good. So I would have been more excited about Smith's H.R.s than all his strikeouts. He'd fit right in with today's game where his strikeout numbers would be pretty average for his power.
1967 Topps

Charles William Smith, born on September 15, 1937 in Charleston, South Carolina, went by the nick-name Charley. Topps used two different spellings (Charley and Charlie) on his baseball cards over the years. The only indication I could find as to which is correct are his autographed cards, which he signed as Charley.

'64 mfc
Many of the old cards here feature the name Charlie because when I made them a while back I was going by the only baseball card of his I had ever seen. His 1964 Topps card, which was somewhat of a traded card when you think about it. No airbrushing, just the ChiSox pic and Mets border (above left). I thought this was so kool when I first saw the card (which wasn't until the late 1980's).
<Of course I had to mess with him for his mfc card. This might have been my very first attempt at simulating the Topps airbrushing done back in the day.

You could say that during  Smith's career he was well traveled, and he was, but you could also say he was well traded. I was impressed when I saw the players Charley was swapped for. Here's a breakdown of Smith's journey through MLB:

>>Smith signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1957 at age 19 as a shortstop and rose rapidly through their farm system, culminating in his selection as the Pacific Coast League's all-star infielder in 1960, with the Dodgers having moved to Los Angeles by this time.

>>Just a month into the 1961 season L.A. dealt Charley and Don Demeter to the Philadelphia Phillies for Turk Farrell and Joe Koppe. The Phillies made him their regular third baseman. Overall, he hit .248 with 11 homers and 50 RBI, earning a spot on the Topps All-Star Rookie team.

>>After the 1961 season concluded Smith was moved again, traded by the Philadelphia Phillies with John Buzhardt to the Chicago White Sox for former all star 1B/OF Roy Sievers.

>>After appearing in only 71 games in parts of three seasons with the White Sox, he was dealt to the New York Mets in April 1964 for Chico Fernandez and minor leaguer Bobby Catton. Smith had a dreadful start to his Met career going 0 for 25 before getting a hit.

>>On August 17, 1964, Charley had the first two-homer game in his career. He took Bob Veale and 
John Gelnar deep to account for four runs in the Mets 5-0 win over Pittsburgh.

>>He ended up batting .239 with 20 home runs and 58 RBI, leading the Mets in round trippers for the 1964 season. However, he struck out 101 times and walked just 19 times in 443 at-bats. 

Between Frank Thomas's 34 H.R.s in 1962 and Tommie Agee's 26 in 1969, Charley was the only New York Mets player to hit as many as 20 homers in a single season.

>>Playing regularly for another anemic Metropolitan team in 1965 Smith hit .244 with 16 homers and a team-high 62 RBI. He also established a Mets record for most strikeouts by a batter in a single season with 123.

>>After Smith's show of power in 1964 & '65 the Mets flipped him and pitcher Al Jackson to the St. Louis Cardinals for all star third baseman Ken Boyer

Ken wasn't quite over the hill yet, but close. He launched 14 long balls while leading the team with 61 RBI and also leading in doubles with 28, which was a new single season record for Metropolitan two baggers at the time.

>>Charley started 100 games at third base for St. Louis in 1966 and had a personal-best batting average of .266 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI.

>>Before the 1967 season Smith was traded to the Yankees straight-up for a declining Roger Maris. Smith carried a paltry .224/.278/.336 batting line in New York that season, only producing 27 extra-base hits (9 home runs) in 425 at-bats. 

>>On August 24, 1967 Charley had the second two-homer game of his career, this time with the Yankees. He again drove in four runs in a 5-0 victory. The opposing pitchers were Tommy John and Hoyt Wilhelm of the White Sox.

>>After playing sparingly for the Yanks Smith was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Nate Oliver after the season ended in 1968. He never played for the Giants however. Before the 1969 season began he was sold to the Chicago Cubs. Smith appeared in only two games for the Cubs, bringing his career to a close on April 22, 1969.

>>In parts of 10 seasons, Smith hit .239 with 69 home runs and 281 RBI.

>>I'm sure you recognized many of the names involved in the Charley Smith trades. Combined, all the players Smith was traded for were named to 19 All-Star teams, and Roger Maris (1960 and 1961) and Ken Boyer (1964) were Most Valuable Player award winners.

2017 mfc Charley Smith card back•stats

>> On November 29th 1994, Charley died suddenly in what I can only describe, for lack of information, as unusual circumstances. All my research can dig up is that Smith died at the Washoe (Nev.) Medical Center after knee surgery at the relatively young age of 57. 
Denise Yoxsimer, a hospital spokeswoman, had no immediate response when asked about the cause of death. An official cause has not been filed with the county vital statistics bureau.
I could not find any info beyond this obituary.

R.I.P. Charley Smith.
May you live forever on your baseball cards.

Much of the information for this post was compiled by Kevin of the blog "THE SCOREBOARD". 
Thank you for that great page on Charley Smith!

Charlie Smith's photo was colorized for use on his 2017 mfc card.
Photographer unknown.

That background was a beeeeeeatch!

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  1. In consecutive years ('66, '67) Charley replaced Ken Boyer on the Cardinals, and replaced Clete Boyer on the Yankees!

    1. Wow, that's good info. I didn't realize about Clete. I was in shock about Maris cause I didn't know they were traded straight up till I researched this post. Great additional info, thanks :)

    2. The Cardinals got the better of THAT deal. They replaced Smith by moving Mike Shannon in from RF to 3B, and Maris had 2 good seasons, both culminating in World Series appearances. His power was gone, but his batting average for both seasons was better than his final 2 seasons with the Yankees.

      The 1968 World Series was the final chapter for Maris and Eddie Mathews (Tigers).

    3. Also great info. And I had no idea you had so many kool blogs. Added all the baseball ones (not much of a football fan). I think I'll like the 60's Pop Culture one as well. It doesn't look active, still, I'll bookmark and read that.
      Thanks for commenting Jim. I love learning stuff from this blog.