Ozzie

The Ozzie Smith We Weren’t Supposed To See

Ozzie Smith is auctioning off his Gold Gloves, World Series rings and other memorabilia: LINK HERE

PI

Growing up we all had our 'guys'.

I wasn't original in tapping Ozzie Smith as mine. After all, by the time I really started loving baseball in the early 90s, he was headed towards the twilight of his career and had long established himself as the best defensive player of his generation. I was hopping on a bandwagon before I really knew what that meant.

In 1992, maybe 1993, my buddy SJ found out that ANYBODY to go to the public access channel in our hometown and use it. And if the crap shot was any good (read: anything), they'd put it on air.

We wanted a show. Bad. And because SJs grandpa knew someone over at the Cardinals, they hooked us up with press passes to go on the field before a game against the Phillies. I've told this story before, so I won't bore you with all the details, but the thing that sigularly sticks out in my mind about this whole whirlwind of a experience for a 12 year old was Ozzie.

Ozzie did our interview. And as we were breaking down equipment, he called SJ and I over to the dugout.

THE CARDINALS DUGOUT?!

He sat us down on the bench and started asking us questions about what we were up to, where our show would air, etc al. He then told us that he really admired what we were doing and to keep up the good work.

Mind you, this is a Hall of Fame player at this point. The most famous Cardinal of the 80s and early 90s. A certified superstar. And he's taking the time out from his pre-game prep to give 2 kids a pep talk.

The best.

I'll have that memory forever.

PII

Sunday night at the gym I was having a conversation with my friend and I admitted that I totally whiffed on the story that came out a week earlier about Ozzie selling all his awards at auction.

Working in the news business, you might not know of all the news stories, but the big ones you at least have a tangential idea of what's going on and some bit of context about how important they are. I just didn't see this story.

I was sad.

And not because Ozzie needs the money (we all could use more money), but because a part of me remembers the agony of seeing which NL shortstop was going to win the Gold Glove in the early 90s. I mean, the team sucked, so I had to root for things like All-Stars and Gold Gloves. It's not much, but like I said, Ozzie was MY GUY. If Barry Larkin though he was going to step up, he was WRONG.

Those moments of my childhood were kind of tucked away. A happy place that I suppose I could tap into if the situation was right. But now this auction had kind of cast a pall over them.

If Ozzie doesn't really care about the Gold Gloves, then why the hell did I care so much?

Because I was a stupid little kid that didn't know any better, that's why. Still, it's not fun to see the guys that you thought were immortal become so. And do it in a way that's more sad than anything. A big part of me knows that the 'family planning' line is all BS, after all, his downtown restaurant was a spectacular fail,  but my first inclination was to defend Smith against the Internet comments that were harshing his decision.

Shit, I actually thought about if I could help him in some way.

PIII

Ozzie is going to stick with the line that he wants to set his family up and that he'll still have the memories of all those awards. That's fine. I'm sure that this whole ordeal is embarassing for him.

And because the Wizzard is my guy, I'll hope that whatever need he has is filled through this estate sale.

But maybe, just one day, Ozzie can come out and tell us he didn't really want to do this. And that things were worse than he let on. Because even though his gold gloves are going on the auction block soon, I can't really square the guy that cared about 2 knucklehead 12 year olds and their journey with the guy that would sell his awards for cash.

It may be 20 years on, but Ozzie Smith is still my guy. He'll get through this stretch. And he can set the record straight.

Right now we're seeing the Ozzie we weren't supposed to see.

PIV

In April of 2011, Cards Diaspora got the chance to interview Ozzie Smith: LISTEN HERE

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