Our feast-day series continues today with:
Life: Reggie Smith is one of the better players the modern fan maybe hasn’t heard of. While possessing no standout tool, Smith hit enough and walked enough and fielded enough over the course of his 17-year career to accumulate a 71.8 WAR — i.e. more than Duke Snider, Yogi Berra, Craig Biggio, and a number of other famous and good players. Unfortunately, owing perhaps to the lack of one or two exceptional seasons, Smith received less fanfare than his body of work perhaps deserved, never finishing better than fourth in the MVP chase and surviving just one year of the BBWAA’s Hall of Fame voting. It’s possible that the presence of the considerably more famous Reggie Jackson, whose career spanned almost the same exact timeframe as Smith’s, had some influence over Smith’s relative obscurity.
Spiritual Exercise: It’s likely that Smith received little attention in awards-voting because he failed to reach notable, albeit largely meaningless, milestones with any sort of frequency, scoring 100 runs just twice in his career (109 in 1970 and 104 in 1977) and recording 100 RBIs only once (with exactly 100 in 1974). Nevertheless, he was quite productive — probably more productive than certain players who achieved these aforementioned milestones.
Ask yourself: is it better to be excellent in relative obscurity, or mediocre but considered great? (Note: while there’s no wrong answer, per se, believing the latter will make you an insufferable bridge partner.)
A Prayer for Reggie Smith
With your given name,
it was predetermined:
you would either be
a talented athlete
or personal gentleman’s
on totally fulfilling
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