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Mike Schmidt

Building A Reputation

In 1971, Schmidt was drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia Phillies. He spent two years in the minor leagues. He played one season with the Reading (Pennsylvania) Phillies and most of the next season with the Eugene (Oregon) Emeralds. He was called up to the major leagues in September of 1972. It wasn't until 1974 that Schmidt came into his own as a Phillies player. While he led the league in strikeouts he also led the league in home runs, and continued to do so for the next two years. That same year he hit one of the longest singles recorded in major league history. In a game against the Houston Astros at the Astrodome, Schmidt hit the ball 329 feet from home plate and 117 feet in air, smashing a speaker that hung from the ceiling. In later years, he got his swing under control and had four more seasons as the home run leader (1980-81, 1983, and 1986). In 1984, he tied for that lead.

By 1978, Schmidt was considered one of the Phillies' best players. He was reluctantly elected to the position of team captain and his game suffered many setbacks that year. He hit only twenty-one home runs and seventy-eight Runs Batted In (RBIs). He got himself back together the next season and hit a career high forty-five home runs.

Chronology

1949 Born September 27 in Dayton, Ohio
1971 Drafted in second round by Phillies, plays two seasons in minor leagues
1972 Called up to play for Phillies
1973 First full season in major league; meets Donna Wightman
1974 Hits one of the longest singles in major league history: 329 feet from home plate, 117 feet in the air; marries Wightman
1975 Despite striking out 180 times due to sprained left shoulder, he stills leads the National League in home runs; steals a career high 29 bases
1976 Hits four home runs in one game at Wrigley Field, helping team to a come-back win against the Chicago Cubs, 18-16
1977 Becomes a born-again Christian
1978 Daughter Jessica Rae born December 19; elected team captain
1979 Hits a career high 45 home runs
1980 Breaks his own career high by hitting 48 home runs; helps take Phillies to World Series
1981 Begins providing tickets to games to those who couldn't normally attend
1983 Becomes highest paid baseball player with a $2.1 million per year salary
1985 Begins raising money for the United Way by having companies donate $100 for every home run he hits
1986 Surpasses Lou Gehrig's 494 home runs
1988 Second year of his two-year contract not renewed by Phillies
1989 Announces retirement from baseball on Memorial Day; elected to play for the National League in the All-Star Game, but does not play
1995 Baseball Writers' Association of America votes Schmidt into the Hall of Fame with an overwhelming 96.52 percent of the vote; 26th player to be voted in his first time on the ballot
2002 Becomes commissioner for United States Professional Softball League

Awards and Accomplishments

1970 Ohio University wins NCAA District 4 title; fourth place, College World Series
1970-71 All-American Shortstop
1974, 1976-77, 1979-84, 1986-87, 1989 Elected to All-Star team
1974-76, 1980-81, 1983-84, 1986 Led league in home runs
1976 National League record for most homers, hitting 11 in April
1976-84, 1986 Gold Glove award winner
1980 Most Valuable Player; Phillies win World Series; voted World Series MVP; National League Player of the Year
1980-81, 1984 Led league in RBIs
1980-84, 1986 Silver Slugger award winner
1981 Most Valuable Player
1983 Phillies play in World Series; voted Greatest Phillies Player Ever
1986 Most Valuable Player; National League Player of the Year; became first Phillies player to ever play in 2,000 games, June 9, 1986
1990 Phillies hold a tribute night and retire his jersey
1995 Inducted into Hall of Fame; fifth place, Isuzu Celebrity Golf Challenge in Lake Tahoe
1996 Ninth place, Isuzu Celebrity Golf Challenge in Lake Tahoe

For the Philadelphia Phillies, 1980 was an unforget-table year. With Schmidt's excellent fielding and batting ability the team won their only World Series championship. He was voted Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the National League (NL) that year as well as MVP for the World Series. He bested his previous career high home runs, hitting forty-eight. Schmidt related his feelings about being part of the 1980 World Series championship team to Joe O'Loughlin of Baseball Digest, "Every organization has a team that's really special, and the 1980 club is that team for the Phillies.… I'm honored to be on that team and be a central figure on it."

The 1980s continued to be excellent years for Schmidt. He became one of eleven players to be elected MVP two years in a row, when he was named MVP in 1981. In 1983, he helped the Phillies team to the World Series, but they ended up losing to the Orioles. That same year, he became the highest paid player in baseball with a $2.1 million per year contract. In 1986, he won his third MVP award.

In 1988, Schmidt encountered the first major injury of his career. A torn rotator cuff put Schmidt on the injured list. While he was undergoing surgery for the shoulder injury, the Phillies announced that they would not renew the second year of his two-year contract, which was worth $2.25 million. Schmidt elected to spend one more season with the Phillies, but ended up announcing his retirement on Memorial Day, 1989.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsBaseballMike Schmidt Biography - From Unremarkable To Exceptional, Building A Reputation, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, An Uneasy Fame - CONTACT INFORMATION