May 16, 2015

Early Sixties Mets First Baseman: Dick Smith (1963-1964)

Richard Arthur Smith was born May 17, 1939 in Lebanon, Oregon. Smith was a six foot two inch, two hundred pound right handed hitter who was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1957.

He spent five years at their minor league level having two 19 HR seasons in the early sixties. He struck out often, including 148 times in 1960. In December 1962 he had his contract purchased by the New York Mets.

He hit 12 HRs batting .262 in 105 games at AAA Buffalo that year, making his MLB debut on July 20th 1963 as a pinch hitter in Philadelphia going 0-1 against the Phillies. He got the start the next day in left field but was sent down to AAA Buffalo after just nine games after going hitless.

He returned as a September call up getting ten hits that month, including a big day in San Francisco on September 23rd, when he hit a bases loaded triple, scoring all three runs to lead the Mets to a 4-3 victory.

In 1964 Smith was the Mets Opening Day first baseman batting in the leadoff spot in Philadelphia, going 2-4. In late May he became the first Met to get five hits in a game when he went 5-6 in a 19-1 Mets romp over the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago. That month he also had four multiple hit games, including a three hit day against the Milwaukee Braves. By mid June he was only batting .223 with no HRs & just three RBIs when he was sent back down to AAA Buffalo.

He spent the rest of the year there batting .307 with 9 HRs, before getting traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in October 1964 for Larry Miller. He would appear in just ten games for the 1965 World Champion Dodgers going hitless in six at bats.

He would never appear in the major leagues again, playing in the minors through the 1968 season. In a three year career he batted .218 with 31 hits six doubles seven RBIs & a .260 on base % in 76 games.

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