Schmidt in 1977
|Born: September 27, 1949|
|September 12, 1972, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Last MLB appearance|
|May 28, 1989, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Runs batted in||1,595|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Vote||96.5% (first ballot)|
Michael Jack Schmidt (born September 27, 1949) is an American former professional baseball third baseman who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Philadelphia Phillies. Schmidt was a 12-time All-Star and a three-time winner of the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player award (MVP), and he was known for his combination of power hitting and strong defense. As a hitter, he compiled 548 home runs and 1,595 runs batted in (RBIs), and led the NL in home runs eight times and in RBIs four times. As a fielder, Schmidt won the National League Gold Glove Award for third basemen ten times. Schmidt was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995 and is widely considered to be the one of the greatest third basemen in baseball history.
Having an unusual batting stance, Schmidt turned his back somewhat toward the pitcher and rocked his rear end back-and-forth while waiting for a pitch. By standing far back in the batter's box, he made it almost impossible to jam him by pitching inside. Schmidt was one of the best athletes of his era; teammate Pete Rose once said, "To have his body, I'd trade him mine and my wife's, and I'd throw in some cash."
Mike Schmidt's parents are Joseph Jack Schmidt and Lois Jane Philipps. They managed the Philipps Aquatic Club founded by Lois' great-grandfather Charles A. Philipps. Mike was a lifeguard at the club.
Upon graduation from Fairview High School in Dayton, Ohio in 1967, Schmidt attended Ohio University in Athens, where he joined Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He led the Ohio Bobcats baseball team to the College World Series in 1970 and was selected as the shortstop for the 1970 College Baseball All-America Team. Schmidt was drafted by the Phillies in the second round (30th overall) of the 1971 Major League Baseball draft.
On June 11, 1971, Schmidt was signed by Phillies scout Tony Lucadello, who had followed him since he played Little League Baseball. Six days later, Schmidt made his professional debut in an exhibition game between the Phillies and their Double-A affiliate the Reading Phillies in Reading, Pennsylvania. Schmidt played the whole game at shortstop for the big-league Phillies, hitting a game-winning home run against his future Reading teammates. Schmidt stayed in Reading, spending the rest of the 1971 season at the Double-A level. In 1972, he was promoted to the Triple-A Eugene Emeralds of the Pacific Coast League. Along with shortstop and third base, Schmidt also played second base during his time in the minor leagues.
Schmidt spent two seasons in the Phillies' farm system, where he batted .263 with 34 home runs and 122 runs batted in. After playing most of the 1972 season for Triple-A Eugene, he was called up to the Phillies in September and made his major league debut against the New York Mets on September 12. Four days later, in Philadelphia on September 16, Schmidt ended Montreal Expos pitcher Balor Moore's streak of 25 scoreless innings pitched with his first career home run.
Following the 1972 season, the Phillies dealt third baseman Don Money to the Milwaukee Brewers to open a spot for Schmidt in their infield. While he batted only .196 with 136 strikeouts during his first full season in 1973, Schmidt demonstrated his power potential by hitting 18 home runs.
The next year, 1974, Schmidt's batting average climbed to .282 and he received the first of his twelve All-Star nods. On June 10, in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, Schmidt hit a ball off Houston Astros' pitcher Claude Osteen that looked like a sure home run. The ball hit a public address speaker suspended 117 feet above and 329 feet away from home plate, falling into center field. By the ground rules, it remained in play and Schmidt was held to just a single, with the runners on first and second each advancing just one base. It is believed that had the ball not hit the speaker, it would have traveled beyond 500 feet. For the season, Schmidt finished sixth in National League Most Valuable Player balloting as he batted .282 with 116 RBIs and a league-leading 36 home runs to help the Phillies avoid a last-place finish in the National League East for the first time since 1970. His 404 assists in 1974 remains a record for third basemen.
Schmidt's batting average hovered below .200 through May 1975. Solid months of July and August saw his average rise to .249 by the end of the season as he led the league in home runs for the second year in a row, with 38. Schmidt started the 1976 season by hitting 12 home runs in Philadelphia's first 15 games, including four in one game on April 17, becoming the 10th player in major league history to accomplish that feat. For the season, Schmidt drove in 107 runs, led the league in home runs for the third year in a row (38), and won his first of ten Gold Gloves to lead the Phillies to their first division crown since division play started in 1969.
In 1977, Schmidt signed a contract with the Phillies which paid him $561,500 per year (equivalent to $2,369,030 in 2019), making him the highest-paid player in baseball history to that point and the first to surpass $500,000 annually.
The Phillies captured the NL East crown three years in a row; however, they were swept by Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" in 1976, and lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977 and 1978. On December 5, 1978, the Phillies signed Pete Rose as a free agent, temporarily making Rose the highest-paid athlete in team sports with a four-year, $3.2-million contract. With Rose on board, the Phillies were early favorites to repeat as division winners in 1979. Instead, the Phillies finished the season at 84-78, and in fourth place in NL East. For his part, Schmidt broke the club record for home runs in a season with 45, eclipsing Chuck Klein's 43 homers in 1929.
On October 3, 1980, the Phillies went into Montreal tied with the Expos for first place in the NL East. With a sacrifice fly in the first, and a solo home run in the sixth, Schmidt led the Phillies to a 2-1 victory to capture first place. A day later, Schmidt hit his 48th home run of the season in the 11th inning to give the Phillies the 6-4 extra innings victory over the Expos, and clinch the division. His 48 home runs broke his own team record, and led the National League by a margin of 13 over his nearest competitor. Coupled with a league-leading 121 RBIs, Schmidt was a unanimous choice for the National League's Most Valuable Player Award.
The Phillies defeated the Houston Astros in the 1980 National League Championship Series to reach the World Series for the third time in franchise history. Though Schmidt had just a career .191 post-season batting average with no home runs and five RBIs, his bat came alive in the 1980 World Series, hitting two homers and driving in seven runs against the Kansas City Royals. The Phillies beat the Royals in six games to win the first World Series in franchise history, and Schmidt won the World Series MVP Award. Following the World Series, Schmidt and four of his Phillies teammates appeared on Family Feud for one week in 1980. He, Larry Bowa, Garry Maddox, Dick Ruthven and Del Unser took on five members of the Kansas City Royals: Dennis Leonard, Dan Quisenberry, Paul Splittorff, John Wathan and Willie Wilson.
Schmidt's best season may have been the strike-shortened 1981 season. His 31 home runs were seven more than anyone else in the league. He also led the NL in runs scored, RBIs, total bases and walks, and set personal highs in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He won his second consecutive MVP award, this time with 96% of the vote.
The Phillies led the NL East by 3.5 games when the 1981 Major League Baseball strike hit. As a result, the Phillies were named NL East champions for the first half of the season; however, they lost to the second-half champion Montreal Expos in the 1981 National League Division Series.
In 1983, in celebration of the team's 100th anniversary, Schmidt was voted by fans the greatest player in the history of the franchise. That year, he led the league in home runs for the sixth time in his career to lead the Phillies back to the postseason. Schmidt led his team with a .467 batting average and scored five runs as they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1983 National League Championship Series. It was, however, a much different story against the Baltimore Orioles in the 1983 World Series. The Phillies were held to a .195 team batting average; Schmidt went just 1-for-20 with a single.
Following the 1983 season, Schmidt was awarded the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. That off-season, Pete Rose left the Phillies as a free agent and signed with the Montreal Expos. With a hole at first base, the Phillies played Tim Corcoran and Len Matuszek in a platoon system during the 1984 season. Neither player provided the offensive spark Rose did, and so a change was in order. Early in the 1985 season, Schmidt agreed to move to first base (starting from late May) through the end of the season with Rick Schu assuming third base duties. The Phillies finished with a record below .500 for the first time since 1974.
In 1986, the Phillies moved outfielder Von Hayes to first base and shifted Schmidt back to third base. He responded by winning his third MVP award, a record for third basemen, with a league-leading 37 home runs and 119 RBIs.
Trailing the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 in the top of the ninth inning at Three Rivers Stadium on April 18, 1987, Schmidt hit his 500th career home run, a three-run shot off of Don Robinson. It put the Phillies in front 8-6, and ended up being the game-winner.
Injuries to Schmidt's rotator cuff caused him to miss the last month and a half of the 1988 season. He returned healthy for the 1989 season. However, after a poor start, Schmidt suddenly chose to announce his retirement in San Diego, on May 29. Although he typically demonstrated little emotion on the field (and was known as "Captain Cool" by many in Philadelphia sports circles), Schmidt surprised many with an emotional, and occasionally tearful, retirement speech. He said in his retirement press conference, ''I left Dayton, Ohio, with two bad knees and a dream of becoming a baseball player; I thank God it came it true." His last game was May 28, 1989, against the San Francisco Giants.
Despite his own perceived subpar start and subsequent retirement on May 29, fans once again voted Schmidt to be the starting third baseman for the NL All-Star team. He decided not to play, but he did participate in the game's opening ceremony in uniform.
Over his career, Schmidt set a vast array of hitting and fielding records. In addition to his MVP Awards, Schmidt won ten Gold Gloves, led the league in home runs eight times, in RBIs four times, OPS five times, and walks four times. He was named to 12 All-Star teams. He is the Phillies' all-time leader in games played, at-bats, plate appearances, runs scored, home runs, RBI, walks, strikeouts, total bases, runs created, sacrifice flies, outs, Adj. Batting Runs, Adj. Batting Wins, Extra Base Hits, Times On Base, and Power-Speed number. Schmidt's 548 home runs are the most ever hit by a player who spent his entire career with just one team.
Schmidt opted, at first, to pursue a more private lifestyle after his career, rather than to become a manager or coach. He has written a number of articles on baseball for CBS and regularly participates in charity golf tournaments.
The Sporting News named Schmidt "The Player of the Decade" of the 1980s, in their January 29, 1990 issue.
His uniform number 20 was retired by the Phillies before a game at Veterans Stadium on May 26, 1990. That same season, Mike was inducted as a member of the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame (he had previously been inducted as the third baseman for the Phillies' Centennial Team in 1983).
In 1991, he and Nolan Ryan were inducted into the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum's Hall of Excellence (established in 1988), thereby becoming only the second and third MLB players inducted into the Hall.
In 1997, Schmidt was elected as the starting third-baseman by the Baseball Writers' Association of America to the Major League Baseball All-Time Team. The event was celebrated at the 1997 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Cleveland, Ohio.
In 1999, he ranked number 28 on The Sporting News's list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, the highest-ranking third baseman, and the highest-ranking player whose career began after 1967. Later that year, he was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team as the starting third-baseman. The event was celebrated at the 1999 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Boston, Massachusetts.
On September 27, 2006, Schmidt was announced as the Phillies representative for the DHL Hometown Heroes promotion, beating out Steve Carlton, Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts and Chuck Klein as most outstanding player in the Phillies history.
Schmidt returned to his alma mater, Ohio University, in October 2014 for the retirement of his number 10 by the Ohio University Baseball Team, which he led to the College World Series in 1970.
On July 14, 2015, Schmidt was named one of the Phillies "Franchise Four" as voted by the fans, along with Steve Carlton, Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts.
Schmidt has publicly expressed his thoughts on various baseball controversies. He has been a vocal advocate for the reinstatement of Pete Rose to baseball. In July 2005, he appeared on Bob Costas' HBO show Costas Now to discuss steroids, and said, "Let me go out on a limb and say that if I had played during that era I would have taken steroids... We all have these things we deal with in life, and I'm surely not going to sit here and say to you guys, 'I wouldn't have done that.'" In his 2006 book, Clearing the Bases: Juiced Players, Monster Salaries, Sham Records, and a Hall of Famer's Search for the Soul of Baseball, he somewhat recanted that statement, saying that he understood the desire to get a competitive advantage even though he could not condone breaking the rules to do so.
Starting in 2002, Schmidt works with the Phillies as a hitting coach during each Spring training. In October 2003, Schmidt was named the manager of the Phillies' Single A Florida State League affiliate, the Clearwater Threshers. He managed them for just the 2004 season, then resigned. In 2009, he served as third base coach for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
In 2001, Schmidt began sponsoring an annual fishing tournament known as the Mike Schmidt Winner's Circle Invitational at Old Bahama Bay in West End, Grand Bahama Island. The first event raised $27,000, and has since raised over $1.5 million for cystic fibrosis.
NBC used Schmidt as a guest analyst (Marv Albert served as the pregame host) for Game 1 of the 1989 NLCS. Schmidt subsequently, did on-field reporting throughout the series. Schmidt also provided periodic commentary (albeit, taped prior to the playoffs) for ABC during the 1988 NLCS.
Schmidt spent the 1990 season as a color analyst with the Phillies broadcast team on the now-defunct PRISM network, where he was partnered with play-by-play announcer Jim Barniak, and was known to be very candid and honest with his commentary. From 2014 to 2019, he served as a color analyst for the Phillies. Starting in 2014, he provided commentary during Sunday home games on NBC Sports Philadelphia. In 2015, Schmidt also provided commentary during Saturday home games, creating a "Weekends with Schmidt" format.