Tuesday, November 15, 2011
#25) CHARLEY SMITH
Charley Smith joined the New York Mets when he was traded from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Chico Fernandez and Bobby Catton on April 23, 1964. Smith made his debut with the club at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh the next day. He entered the 9-4 loss to the Pirates as a late inning defensive replacement at third base.
Charley established himself as the Mets most used option at third base during the first season of Shea Stadium. He appeared in 85 games at the position, but also was used in left field. Smith rewarded the club's faith in him by leading the team in home runs with 20 round-trippers.
Smith's biggest moment in the new ballpark came on August 17, 1964. Charley slugged a pair of homers that drove in a total of four runs during New York's 5-0 victory over the Pirates. It was all the offense needed to back up Mets rookie pitcher, Dennis Ribant on way to his first major-league win.
Charley returned for a second season with the Mets in 1965, and led the team in RBIs. During his two years with the team he hit 36 home runs, with 120 RBIs, and a .242 batting average. The free-swinger also recorded team highs in strikeouts during his two years in New York.
The Mets traded Smith along with Al Jackson to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Ken Boyer on October 20, 1965. Charley continued to play in the major-leagues until leaving the game in 1969. His two games with the Chicago Cubs that season allows him the rare distinction of having played for all four New York and Chicago big-league clubs.
The South Carolina native later retired to Reno, Nevada. Charley Smith passed away following knee surgery at the Washoe Medical Center there on November 29, 1994. He was just 57 years old.
I created Charley Smith's card in the set from an autographed Mets game program acquired from Adam Novak of City Liquidators in August of 2011.