Mike Schmidt

Position: Third baseman
Team: Philadelphia Phillies, 1972-1989

The Wind Was
Blowing Out
A four-homer game is one of baseball’s most revered achievements, and it occurs at roughly the same rate as a perfect game. Schmidt solidified his credentials as a slugger with such a game on April 17, 1976.

With the wind blowing out at Wrig­ley Field, Schmidt tied a ML record by hitting four consecutive home runs as the Phils scored a 10-inning, 18-16 victory. He hit a two-run homer in the fifth, a solo shot in the seventh, a three-run blast in the eighth, and a two-run round-tripper in the 10th.

After the game, Schmidt explained his thoughts when he had a chance to tie the record. “I was only trying to get a single to get (the runner) into scoring position,” he said. “No, I was not trying to get a home run, because I wanted to win this game.”

That kind of attitude helped the Phils to the most successful era in team history. They finished first that year, for the first time since 1950.

What can one say about Mike Schmidt except that he might be the greatest all-around third baseman ever to play the game? A star at bat and in the field, and author of 174 career stolen bases, this right-handed slugger spent his entire 18-year career with the Phillies. Schmidt assembled enough awards and statistics to make him a Hall of Famer in his first year of eligibility, 1995.

Schmidt hit 548 home runs, retiring seventh on the all-time list; captured the NL MVP Award in 1980, '81, and '86; was named the MVP in the 1980 World Series; and captured 10 Gold Gloves. He drove in 1,595 career runs, a total that when he left the game in 1989 placed him among the top 25 overall and gave him more than any third baseman in history.

Schmidt led the league in home runs on eight occasions and reached the 100-RBI plateau nine times. He led the league in slugging percentage five times and drew at least 100 walks in seven different seasons. Besides tying a major-league record by hitting four homers in a game, he also collected three in a game on two other occasions. A 12-time All-Star, Schmidt hit a two-run homer in the 1981 midsummer classic, giving the NL a 5-4 win.

At the time of his election to the Hall of Fame, Schmidt ranked first in Phils history with 2,404 games, 2,234 hits, 4,404 total bases, and 1,015 extra-base hits. He also ranked among all-time franchise leaders with 408 doubles and 174 steals. And as one more measure of Schmidt's value, consider that his career .380 on-base percentage left him only 14 points behind Richie Ashburn, a fellow Phillie who made the Hall of Fame largely on the basis of his ability to get on base.

Michael Jack Schmidt (born in 1949) hailed from Dayton, Ohio. The 6' 2", 195-pounder joined the Phillies in September 1972, giving little indication of what was to come. In 13 games and 34 at bats, Schmidt batted .206 with one homer. The next season, Schmidt became a regular at third. Schmidt managed 18 homers and 52 RBI, but they came at the expense of contact; he fanned 136 times in just 367 at bats.

By 1974, however, both Schmidt and the Phillies were on the move. The team finished third in the NL East, its best in 10 years, and Schmidt blossomed. He hit 36 league-leading homers, added 116 RBI, and earned his first All-Star berth.

Two years later, the Phillies captured the NL East, with Schmidt leading the league in homers for the third straight year. He also collected his first Gold Glove and made the All-Star Team for the second time. He hit .308 in his first exposure to postseason play, but the Phils were swept in three games. It was the beginning of an arduous process in which the team had to learn how to survive the pressure of the playoffs.

Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt was perhaps the greatest all-around third baseman to ever play the
game, with four MVP Awards and 10 Gold Gloves among his many honors.

Schmidt struggled through the postseason in 1977 (.063) and '78 (.200) as the Phils were eliminated. But 1980 proved to be different. Schmidt delivered career highs with 48 homers and 121 RBI, earning the MVP Award as the Phils survived a three-way scramble involving Montreal and Pittsburgh.

In the playoffs, the Phils prevailed against Houston in a five-game series, as Schmidt hit only .208. But in the World Series, the Phils' first since 1950, Schmidt registered the October performance of his life. He batted .381 to help the Phils win in six games. In Game 2, he doubled home the tying run and scored the winner in a four-run eighth inning. He hit a two-run homer to put the Phillies ahead 2-0 in Game 5, then began the winning rally with a ninth-inning single.

By then, Schmidt was well into his prime. He made another World Series appearance in 1983, then led the league both in homers and RBI in 1984 and '86. His last great year came in 1987, when he hit 35 homers with 113 RBI. As a testimony to how much he had matured as a hitter over the years, he struck out only 80 times, less than half his career high.

In 1989, Schmidt made his exit from the game after appearing in 42 contests and managing only six homers and 28 RBI. He had been elected to play in the All-Star Game but did not participate. Still, with their vote, the fans had paid him high tribute.

Here are Mike Schmidt's major league totals:


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