Dwight Smith (baseball)

John Dwight Smith Sr. (November 8, 1963 – July 22, 2022) was an American outfielder in Major League Baseball who played for four teams from 1989 to 1996, primarily the Chicago Cubs.

Dwight Smith
Born: (1963-11-08)November 8, 1963
Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.
Died: July 22, 2022(2022-07-22) (aged 58)
Peachtree City, Georgia, U.S.
Batted: Left
Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 1, 1989, for the Chicago Cubs
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 1996, for the Atlanta Braves
MLB statistics
Batting average.275
Home runs46
Runs batted in226
Career highlights and awards

As a rookie with the Cubs, he batted .324 with 52 runs batted in (RBI) as the team captured a division title, and he was runner-up behind teammate Jerome Walton in voting for the National League (NL) Rookie of the Year Award. He was increasingly used as a pinch hitter in his five seasons with the team. After a season split between two American League (AL) clubs, he played two final seasons with the Atlanta Braves, helping them win the 1995 World Series title. His son, Dwight Smith Jr., also became a major league outfielder.

Early life and amateur career

Smith was born in Tallahassee, Florida.[1] He was the youngest of four children. His father died when he was seven years old.[2]

Smith attended Wade Hampton High School in Varnville, South Carolina, and played for the school's baseball and football teams.[3] He enrolled at Spartanburg Methodist College in 1983.[3][4] Playing college baseball for Spartanburg, Smith competed in the Junior College World Series.[3]

Professional career

Chicago Cubs (1984–1993)

The Chicago Cubs selected Smith in the third round of the 1984 MLB draft.[5] He made his professional debut with the Pikeville Cubs of the Rookie-level Appalachian League, struggling to a .236 batting average, but his 39 stolen bases were the most in the league. He batted .289 with 30 stolen bases for the Geneva Cubs of the Class A-Short Season New York-Penn League in 1985 and .310 with 53 stolen bases for the Peoria Chiefs of the Class A Midwest League in 1986.[3] Smith played for the Pittsfield Cubs of the Class AA Eastern League in 1987, batting .377 with 18 home runs, and leading the league with 60 stolen bases and 111 runs scored.[6] He was promoted to the Iowa Cubs of the Class AAA American Association in 1988.[1][7] Though he batted .293 for Iowa,[8] he returned there for the start of the 1989 season because the Cubs felt that he needed to improve his defense.[9]

After batting .325 in 21 games for Iowa, the Cubs promoted Smith to the major leagues due to injuries on the major league team.[10] He made his debut with the Cubs on May 1,[11][12] and batted .324 as a rookie, with nine home runs and 52 runs batted in.[13] Smith finished second in balloting for the NL Rookie of the Year Award behind teammate Jerome Walton, who collected 22 of 24 first-place votes;[14] Smith received the other two.[1] Smith batted 3-for-15 (.200) for the Cubs in the NL Championship Series (NLCS), which they lost to the San Francisco Giants.[15]

Smith struggled in the 1990 season and lost his starting job.[11] He batted .262 for the 1990 season, and the Cubs signed George Bell to play in the outfield.[16] Smith was again a bench player with the Cubs in the 1991 season.[13] He batted .228 in 167 at bats in 1991.[17] Smith began the 1992 season in a platoon with Sammy Sosa playing in left field,[18] but was demoted to the minor leagues from late April to late May after starting the season batting .217.[19] Smith finished the season with a .276 average, three home runs, and 24 RBIs, and signed a one-year contract worth $630,000 for the 1993 season.[19] In 1993, Smith had a .300 batting average and a career-best 11 home runs.[20] Under pressure to reduce their salary obligations, the Cubs did not offer Smith salary arbitration after the 1993 season, making him a free agent.[21]

Later career (1994–1998)

The California Angels signed Smith to a one-year contract for the 1994 season, worth a reported $700,000.[22][23] He began the 1994 season in a platoon with Bo Jackson, but became a bench player on June 1 when the Angels began to play Jim Edmonds on a daily basis.[24] Smith requested a trade, and the Angels traded Smith to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later on June 15.[25] For California and Baltimore, Smith batted .281 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs in 73 games.[26]

Smith signed a one-year contract worth $250,000 with the Atlanta Braves for the 1995 season, agreeing to be a bench player.[26] He batted .252 with three home runs and 21 RBIs in 103 games during the 1995 season.[27] In the postseason, Smith appeared as a pinch hitter, batting 2-for-3 in the Division Series against the Colorado Rockies[28] and 0-for-2 in the NL Championship Series against the Cincinnati Reds.[29] In the 1995 World Series, Smith batted 1-for-2 with a walk, as the Braves defeated the Cleveland Indians in six games.[1][30] Smith re-signed with the Braves for the 1996 season, agreeing to a one-year contract with a $350,000 salary.[27] He batted .203 for the Braves during the 1996 season, and was not included on their postseason roster.[1]

In 1997, no major league teams made a contract offer to Smith. He signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, an expansion team set to debut in 1998, and they assigned him to the Mexico City Tigers of the Mexican League for the 1997 season.[31] An injury to his sciatic nerve prevented Smith from playing, and the Devil Rays released him in May.[32] After he recuperated, Smith played for the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League, an independent baseball league, in 1997.[1] The Devil Rays signed Smith before the 1998 season and invited him to spring training. They gave him his unconditional release before the beginning of the season.[33] In 1998, Smith played for the Rochester Red Wings, a minor league affiliate of the Orioles.[1]

Personal life

Smith began singing when he was four years old in his church choir. During the baseball offseasons, he sang in nightclubs and talent shows.[3] On July 21, 1989 at Wrigley Field, Smith sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before a game against the San Francisco Giants.[34] He also sang the national anthem on Opening Day of the 1992 season. During the 1993–94 offseason, Smith recorded a demo rhythm and blues album titled R U Down.[1][35]

Smith and his wife Cheryl had one son and two daughters.[36] His son Dwight Smith Jr. also played in the major leagues.[37][38]

Smith was arrested for driving under the influence and cannabis possession in Tyrone, Georgia, on November 22, 2003. He was arrested for cocaine possession and driving with a suspended license in Peachtree City, Georgia, on September 6, 2006.[39]

Smith died on July 22, 2022, of congestive heart and lung failure.[30][36]


  1. "Dwight Smith". SABR.org. Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  2. Solomon, Alan (March 3, 1993). "Early adversity steels Cubs' Smith". Chicago Tribune. pp. 4–5. Retrieved July 24, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  3. Everhart, Bill (June 29, 1987). "Dwight right on tune: Cubs' torrid Smith is Mr. Versatility". The Berkshire Eagle. p. D1. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  4. "Cubs' Dwight Smith is doing just fine". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. September 2, 1989. Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  5. Peterson, Randy (April 26, 1988). "I-Cubs outfielder hits right chord in both his professions". The Des Moines Register. p. 2S. Retrieved July 22, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  6. Solomon, Alan (March 1, 1988). "Cub fights for job after fighting cancer". Chicago Tribune. pp. 4–8. Retrieved July 24, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  7. Peterson, Randy (April 26, 1988). "I-Cubs' Smith hits right chord in both his jobs". The Des Moines Register. p. 2S. Retrieved July 24, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  8. Solomon, Alan (March 5, 1989). "9 Cubs go to the post in spirited outfield derby". Chicago Tribune. pp. 3–12. Retrieved July 24, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  9. Peterson, Randy (April 1, 1989). "Iowa Cubs' Smith scores D in defense". The Des Moines Register. p. 1S. Retrieved July 24, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  10. "Cub rookie earning his Gold Glove". The Times. June 27, 1989. p. 19. Retrieved July 24, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  11. "Multifaceted slump puts Cubs' Smith on bench". The Des Moines Register. June 23, 1990. p. 19. Retrieved July 24, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  12. Herrman, Mark (September 6, 1989). "Rookies rejuvenate Cubs". Northwest Herald. Crystal Lake, Illinois. p. 8 Sports. Retrieved July 22, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  13. Newberry, Paul (March 1, 1996). "Former Cub teammates reunited with Braves". The Greenville News. Associated Press. p. 4C. Retrieved July 22, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  14. Murphy, Robert J. (November 9, 1989). "Walton Named NL Rookie of Year". United Press International. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  15. "1989 NLCS – San Francisco Giants over Chicago Cubs (4–1)". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  16. Solomon, Alan (December 30, 1990). "Dwight Smith wants out – or maybe not". The Dispatch. p. C10. Retrieved July 24, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  17. Wade, Don (May 22, 1993). "Dwight Smith is singing a happy song these days". Quad-City Times. p. 2S. Retrieved July 24, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  18. "Lots of new bosses stirring Cubs' brew". Miami Herald. Associated Press. April 1, 1992. p. 6D. Retrieved July 23, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  19. Peterson, Randy (May 20, 1992). "Cubs' Smith just asks for a chance". The Des Moines Register. p. 3S. Retrieved July 23, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  20. "Four Cub players not offered contracts". The Herald-Palladium. St. Joseph, Michigan. Associated Press. December 21, 1993. p. 5B. Retrieved July 23, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  21. Solomon, Alan (December 28, 1993). "Smith feels devastated, says release by Cubs 'hurt me'". Chicago Tribune. p. 3. Retrieved July 23, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  22. Nightengale, Bob (February 1, 1994). "Ex-Cub Smith OKs One-Year Deal". Los Angeles Times. p. C4. Retrieved July 23, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  23. Trammell, Tom (February 2, 1994). "Smith signs with Angels". The Greenville News. p. 3D. Retrieved July 22, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  24. "15 Jun 1994, 50". The Baltimore Sun. June 15, 1994. Retrieved July 24, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  25. "Orioles acquire Smith from California". The Star Democrat. Easton, Maryland. Associated Press. June 15, 1994. p. 2B. Retrieved July 22, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  26. "Three-year deal keeps Blauser with Braves". Tallahassee Democrat. Associated Press. April 13, 1995. p. 5B. Retrieved July 22, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  27. "Dwight Smith signs with Braves". Tallahassee Democrat. January 9, 1996. p. 2C. Retrieved July 22, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  28. "1995 NL Division Series – Atlanta Braves over Colorado Rockies (3–1)". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
  29. "1995 NLCS – Atlanta Braves over Cincinnati Reds (4–0)". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
  30. "Ex-Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs outfielder Dwight Smith dies at 58". ESPN. Associated Press. July 22, 2022. Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  31. Williams, Charean (March 24, 1997). "Devil Rays' Smith isn't in the mood to sing". Orlando Sentinel. p. C-8. Retrieved July 23, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  32. Topkin, Marc; Page, Rodney (May 28, 1997). "Devil Rays pull reverse on Yanks". Tampa Bay Times. p. 5C. Retrieved July 23, 2022.
  33. Wells, Kevin (March 26, 1998). "Rays Daily". The Tampa Tribune. p. 8. Retrieved July 24, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  34. Bagnato, Andrew (July 22, 1989). "Cubs can't produce 2d miracle". Chicago Tribune. p. 3. Retrieved July 22, 2022 via Newspapers.com.
  35. Keegan, Tom (July 20, 1994). "Dwight Smith at front of team's hit parade". The Baltimore Sun. p. 7C. Archived from the original on June 20, 2021. Retrieved July 23, 2022.
  36. "Former World Series champ Dwight Smith dies". MLB.com. July 22, 2022. Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  37. Perry, Dayn (March 17, 2018). "Roy Halladay's son, Braden, pitches perfect inning against the Blue Jays". CBSSports.com. Retrieved July 23, 2022. Interestingly, the Blue Jays' lineup was stuffed with the sons of former big leaguers. Leading and manning second was Cavan Biggio, son of Craig. Batting second and playing short was Bo Bichette, son of Dante (and one of the best prospects in all of baseball). Cleaning up and playing the hot corner was Vladimir Guerrero Jr., son of Vladdy Sr. (and also one of the best prospects in all of baseball). Batting fifth and patrolling left was Dwight Smith Jr., son of Dwight Sr., and playing first base and batting seventh was Kacy Clemens, son of Roger. All of this is to say nothing of Brandon Grudzielanek, nephew of Mark, who was batting sixth and DHing for the Jays.
  38. Rymer, Zachary D. (June 21, 2020). "Making Pops Proud: Ranking Every 2020 MLB Player Whose Dad Also Was in the Bigs". Bleacher Report. Retrieved July 23, 2022.
  39. "Ex-Braves player charged with cocaine possession". The Atlanta Constitution. September 12, 2006. pp. B2.
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