WIZARD by Ozzie with Rob Rains Smith

WIZARD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Here, the popular contortionist shortstop of the St. Louis Cardinals' modern-day Gashouse Gang writes of his baseball career to date. Smith, who set new standards of income for defensive stalwarts with a multiyear, ten-million-dollar contract, writes simply and straightforwardly of his ten years in the majors, beginning with the San Diego Padres (whose owners ""didn't care if the team won or not; they just wanted to be in the league""). When, as a negotiating ploy, Smith's agent placed ads in newspapers seeking part-time work for Smith to supplement his income, the Padres' owner, Joan Kroc, offered him the position of gardener at her estate for $4.50 per hour. Smith, though, found eventual contentment as a Redbird, where he somersaulted onto the field to work his magic as a seven-time Golden Glover. As in his manager's bio, Whitey Herzog's White Rat (1987), Smith goes over the ups and downs of the three Cardinal pennants and the dry years in-between--along the way criticizing umpires with chips on their shoulders who are intent on bringing high-priced players clown a peg; the loud-mouthed antics of Giant Jeff Leonard in the 1987 play-offs (""he may not realize it, but I can hurt him a lot more easily than he can hurt me""); and the braggadocio of the 1986 Mets (they ""didn't know how to lose in 1985, and they didn't know how to win in 1986""). Classy Ozzie also demonstrates that it's possible to write a sports memoir with only one profanity in the entire book. In addition, Smith might cause some controversy by his speculation that the world champion Twins possibly played some dirty tricks in their home park, using crowd noise to shield their turning on the blowers when they hit and shutting them off when the Cards batted, thus enlivening the ball for the home team. Nothing special, but lively enough to satisfy most baseball fans.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1988
Publisher: Contemporary