Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lee Arthur

Here is the latest addition to my autograph collection

Lee Arthur Smith. The card is from Topps Archives 2003, using Smith's 1983 card.

Smith came up to the Cubs as a September call-up in 1980. It was a perfect time; the Cubs had traded Bruce Sutter before the season and were looking for a closer. He made 18 September appearances and did well. The next season he made pitched in 40 games, but wasn't put into the closer role yet. That would happen in 1982, when he saved 17 games. He would average over 30 saves for the Cubs through 1987.

Jim Frey traded him to the Red Sox in one of his first deals as GM in December, 1987. It was a lousy deal, as the Cubs got two bums in return, Calvin Schiraldi and Al Nipper.

I never had the confidence in Smith that I did in Sutter. Smith always seemed to make things more interesting than I liked. The one game I remember that best exemplifies this was on August 2, 1984.

The Cubs had just taken over first place the day before and were looking to build some momentum. Against the Expos at Wrigley Field, the Cubs held a 3-2 but starter Rick Sutcliffe gave up two singles, and with one out, the Expos had runners on first and third. Smith was brought in to face pinch hitter Pete Rose.

Rose smashed a liner right up the middle and it looked like the Expos would tie the game. But instead, the liner hit Lee Smith on the shoulder and caromed to shortstop Larry Bowa, who caught the ball on the fly for an out. Bowa then fired the ball to first and doubled up the runner. Instead of a tie game, with the go ahead run on second, it was a double play and the game was over. Lee Smith, or more correctly, Lee Smith's shoulder, got the save.

That's the Lee Smith that I remember; make it painfully close, but somehow get the save.


  1. Hi: just found your site and love it. Have to offer a correction on the 8/2/84 game details, however. Dave Owen made the play from shortstop to end the game. Harry Caray shouting of "young Dave Owen!" snagging the ball mid-air is emblazoned in my ears' memory, and my brother and I always referred to him thereafter as "young Dave Owen."
    Mike Stanger

  2. And I seem to remember it caroming off of Mr. Smith's backside.