Laurila: Q&A with ex-Red Sox outfielder Reggie Smith

From SABR member David Laurila at FanGraphs on July 30, 2012:

Earlier this year, when respected analyst Jay Jaffe named his Ken Keltner All Stars — aka the best eligible players not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame at each position — his right fielder was Reggie Smith. Some might argue that Dwight Evans or Bobby Bonds would be a better call, but Smith certainly has his bona fides. As a seven-time all-star, he accumulated 71.8 WAR between 1966 and 1982 and hit .287/.366/.489, with 314 home runs. A prolific switch hitter and an excellent defensive outfielder, Smith also had a reputation as a team leader. Now 67 years old, he runs Reggie Smith Baseball Centers in Encino, Calif.


Smith on watching the game evolve: “When I played, the game was still coming out of the late ’50s, when ballplayers were really looked upon as heroes and role models. The game was played, I think, more for the love of it than for the money. We were making good salaries for the time, but nothing like today.

“I’ve seen the game change. The reasons that the players play the game has changed. I’ve actually seen players come into the game that did so because they were pushed into it by their parents. They were pushed because of the money and the opportunities that were there. I’ve seen players walk away from it for that very reason. They didn’t love the game and were playing it because someone else wanted them to.

“From a cultural standpoint, certainly you’ve seen change. It became more international, particularly as they began to cultivate and mine Latin America countries like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. Now you’re starting to see them go into other countries like Japan, Korea and even Europe. Along with those changes, you see some of the cultural differences working their way into the game as to how it‘s approached. It has been a bit of shift, but part of that too is caused by a corporate approach to the game. It’s being run more as a business than as a hobby, as it was when I played.

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Originally published: July 30, 2012. Last Updated: July 30, 2012.