Saturday, June 2, 2012

Final Card: George Smith

Only 3 more cards to go in my "Final Cards" series for the 1967 set: 

Topps chose a less-than-flattering photo for George Smith's final card (#444). George's major-league career was over before this card hit the streets. In fact, he's one of 11 players with their own card in the set who didn't play in the majors after 1966.

George began playing baseball in 1955 with his hometown St. Petersburg Saints, an unaffiliated class-D team in the Florida State League. After being out of baseball during '56 and '57, he was signed by the Tigers in 1958.

Smith played in Detroit's minor league system every season from 1958 to 1965, while also appearing in 52 games for the Tigers in 1963, and a handful in '64 and '65. Although primarily a 2nd baseman, he played a lot of 3rd base and outfield in the minors during the 1963 season.

Immediately after the 1965 season, he and outfielder George Thomas were sent to the Red Sox for veteran pitcher Bill Monbouquette. Smith took over the starting 2nd base job from the departed Felix Mantilla (who coincidentally, was also one of the 11 players in the 1967 set who didn't play after 1966).

George's employment in Boston only lasted one season, as rookie Mike Andrews took over the reins at 2B starting with game #7 of the pennant-winning 1967 season. (Rookie centerfielder Reggie Smith started at 2B for the first six games of the season.)

George spent the 1967 season as a backup 2nd baseman for the Giants' triple-A team in Phoenix. He did the same thing in his final season (1968), splitting time between the Astros' and Senators' triple-A teams.

Smith died in his hometown of St. Petersburg, FL in 1987, about 3 weeks short of his 50th birthday.

No comments: