Running goalies and Reggie Smith’s batting crown

The Olczyk, Obsorne (left) and Secord (right) line was very good, but once Al Secord was replaced by Gary Leeman, it really exploded.

Elliotte Friedman of the CBC does a wonderful column called 30 Thoughts.  I’ve fired all the synapses I seem to have available and  can only come up with two.  I’ll blame this on being Monday.

1. Running the goalie

The radio was all abuzz this morning with talk of the Sabres and their failure to vapourize Milan Lucic for clocking Ryan Miller.  The beauty of being in a position to criticize is that it doesn’t actually matter what happens, you can voice displeasure about it.  Had the Sabres mauled Lucic (no mean feat, admittedly), then you get to talk about the goonery in hockey.  Had they gone after Tim Thomas, well, there’s more grist for the mill.

It’s not just about standing up for your teammate, it’s about doing so in precisely the correct manner.

Years back, someone ran the Leaf goalie (Wregget, I think) and the nearest Leaf promptly jumped the guy and fought him.  That nearest Leaf, however, was newly-acquired number one centre Ed Olczyk.  This was, of course, roundly criticized because while it was great that he stood up and all (yay Eddie!), why would you want him of all people fighting?  Had he done nothing, of course, that just wouldn’t have done, either.  He’d have been just another softie who wouldn’t stand up for a teammate when it mattered.

In fairness, you normally don't want to see 42 goals (and 5 more in the playoffs) fighting anyone.

2. Reggie Smith

It's pretty clear why Reggie did not spend much time in the minors.

When I showed the 1968 OPC Reggie Smith in comparison to the short-cut Stargell the other day, I specifically did not show the back because I wanted to save it for a separate post. 

Reggie Smith is often thought of as a member of the Red Sox or the Dodgers, maybe the Cardinals.  He had an excellent 17-year career in the bigs, hitting over 300 home runs and winning a gold glove as the center fielder for the 1968 BoSox. 

What is somewhat less known is that he was also a Toronto Maple Leaf.

In 1966, his one and only season here, he led the International League in batting with a .320 mark.  This was the last batting crown won by any member of the Leafs (who would skip town after 1967) and the second last title won by any Toronto ballplayer at all.  John Olerud’s 1993 AL title was the last.

This is largely how I reconcile being mostly interested in vintage cards despite being a fan of an expansion team (in baseball – hockey does not offer this problem) that is missing from most of the sets I’d like to collect.  I chase ex-Leafs.   (It’s also less taxing on the old brain to collect Leafs in both baseball and hockey.  :)   )

There is no shortage of major league talent that spent time here either on the way up to the bigs, between stints in the bigs or on the way back down.  Some really interesting names wound their way through and they had some cool accomplishments, both here and elsewhere. 

There are even two players who played for both the Leafs and Jays and about half a dozen Jays coaches who played for the old Leafs.  I’ll get to them eventually.

Jimmy Foxx (sporting a November moustache, I see) is running awfully hard for a guy who just homered.

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This entry was posted in Leafs, OPC, Toronto Baseball, Vintage Baseball, Vintage Hockey and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Running goalies and Reggie Smith’s batting crown

  1. toosoxy says:

    What a great Reggie Smith card! Thanks for sharing!

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