Michael Jack Schmidt grew up in Dayton, Ohio, with a blue-collar work ethic. He carried that mentality onto the baseball field, which helped him get the most of his athletic ability and forever endear him to fans in Philadelphia, where he spent the entirety of his 18-year career.
“If you could equate the amount of time and effort put in mentally and physically into succeeding on the baseball field and measured it by the dirt on your uniform, mine would have been black,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt was a second-round pick out of Ohio University in 1971, one pick after George Brett was selected by the Royals. Signed by legendary Phillies scout Tony Lucadello, Schmidt didn’t spend long in the minors, making his major league debut on Sept. 12, 1972. He took some lumps as a rookie in 1973, hitting just .196 in 132 games. But Schmidt turned things around in a hurry – making the All-Star team in 1974 and never looking back. Schmidt was a 12-time all-star during his career.
Home runs were Schmidt’s calling card at the plate. He led the National League in homers eight times during his career and his 48 home runs in 1980 set a since-broken Major League record for third basemen. On April 18, 1987, Schmidt became the 14th member of the 500 home run club and finished his career with 548.
Along with the power, Schmidt also led the National League in walks four times and retired with a .380 on-base percentage.
In the field, Schmidt was a graceful defender at third base and occasionally the Phillies’ emergency shortstop. He led all NL in assists seven times and double plays six times.
Schmidt was a 10-time Gold Glove Award winner and won six Silver Slugger Awards. He was voted the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1980, 1981 and 1986.
The Phillies won the World Series in 1980, beating the Royals in six games, and Schmidt was named World Series MVP. It was the first World Series championship in franchise history.
Schmidt was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1995.