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THE WIZARD'S WISDOM
as told to Rebecca Sun
November 10, 2011
ST. LOUIS'S FINEST SHORTSTOP RECALLS GREAT TEAMS, PEERLESS FANS AND THOSE MAGICAL BACKFLIPS
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November 10, 2011

The Wizard's Wisdom

ST. LOUIS'S FINEST SHORTSTOP RECALLS GREAT TEAMS, PEERLESS FANS AND THOSE MAGICAL BACKFLIPS

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A FIRST-BALLOT HALL OF FAMER, OZZIE SMITH SPENT 15 SEASONS IN ST. LOUIS, WINNING 11 Gold Gloves (in acrobatic fashion) and stealing 433 bases. A key member of the Cards' 1982 champs and '85 pennant winners, he's still a fan who goes to games at Busch Stadium.

SI: You came to St. Louis from the Padres before the 1982 season and won the Series that year. What was the team like?

OS: I was young [27] and learning, and it was great to be on a team with veterans and winners: Gene Tenace, Jim Kaat, Bob Forsch, George Hendrick. After we won the league, guys stood up and said, "This is only one leg of this journey. Enjoy tonight, but when you wake up tomorrow it's time to prepare for the next leg." Having guys who can pass on that wisdom is priceless.

SI: What about Whitey Herzog?

OS: A great manager who only had two rules: Be on time and give 100 percent. If I can't give 100 percent for four, five hours a night, I shouldn't be playing. When you have people willing to sacrifice everything, then you have a chance at winning.

SI: How about this year's Cards?

OS: They possess the best talent in the league but hadn't played to their potential until a couple months ago, so they went into the postseason as underdogs. It was a great spot to be in because it appeared they were doing something extraordinary when in actuality what they were doing was finally playing to their potential. It's been wonderful for the city because there's nothing more exciting than postseason baseball. There's a chill in the air. And they've certainly given us a lot to cheer about these last couple months.

SI: What's special about Cardinals fans?

OS: St. Louis is weaned on baseball. Season tickets are passed down from generation to generation. It becomes part of the fabric of this city. For players, St. Louis doesn't have the scrutiny of a big city like New York. People here, who come from the land, understand hard work and realize we can't win every year. They let you know when they're not happy, but if you put forth effort every day, run the ball out, play till the fat lady sings, then it's a great place to play. A lot of guys stay here after their careers.

SI: Like you. This is where you raised your family.

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