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OZZIE : The Phrase Good Glove Man Doesn't Even Begin to Cover It; He's Standard for Shortstops

July 23, 1985|THOMAS BONK | Times Staff Writer

"Marty had great range, a great arm and could stop and throw right in his tracks," Schoendienst said. "But day in and day out, I don't think you could put anybody up there with Ozzie. He can do everything with the glove. He's the best I've ever seen in about 40 years.

"One of these years, there'll be some shortstop to come along and they'll be comparing him to Ozzie," Schoendienst said. "Ozzie will be the standard."

So this is how it is for Osborne Earl Smith, the part-time acrobat and full-time millionaire shortstop. He flips even though he never had any gymnastics training--he has a trampoline now--and he hits even though he had only 68 games in the minor leagues.

Ozzie said batting has been on-the-job training in the majors because of his lack of time in the minor leagues. He's getting stronger, he said, which has helped him hit four home runs this season after having hit just seven in seven previous seasons.

As for hitting more ground balls, well, Ozzie isn't so sure that's so smart.

"You can find out that hitting the ball on the ground can be very futile," he said. "They have people up here in the big leagues who can get that ball and throw you out. People like me."

Really, though, there isn't anybody like Ozzie Smith. It's no secret what makes him feel good and what has made him rich. There is magic in Ozzie's glove. Whether there's $2 million worth of it in there, who knows? Ozzie doesn't.

"I really don't get wrapped up in that, or any of that stuff like making the greatest plays or whether I'm the greatest," Smith said.

"It's never just one play. The most important word associated with the game of baseball is consistency. To be able to make the next play that comes to you, you have to forget that one, great play you just made.

"The thing that separates the good from the average or the good from the great is the degree of consistency with which you perform. I don't necessarily believe I'm the greatest. I just want to maximize my God-given talent.

"Every night when I leave the ballpark, I ask myself this question: 'Did you do your very best?' To this point, the answer has been yes."

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