A February trade helped the Cardinals reel in Ozzie Smith, the best defensive shortstop of all time
On Oct. 20, 1982, the Cardinals won their ninth World Series title in seven games over the Brewers. One of the biggest reasons for their success was a trade that GM and manager Whitey Herzog had finalized just eight months prior.
It was 36 years ago today that the Cardinals acquired future Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith from the Padres in a six-player trade that was essentially a shortstop swap for Garry Templeton. Although Smith is remembered by almost everyone as a Cardinal, he actually spent the first four years of his career with the Padres, where he first began to show off his Gold Glove skills:
By the 1981-82 offseason, however, the Padres were weary of Smith's contract demands and sought to trade him. It had also been an arduous year for the Cardinals and Templeton, who was suspended in August. A trade made perfect sense, and the teams agreed to a framework during the Winter Meetings; they would work together for two months before the trade was finalized on Feb. 11, 1982.
Templeton's talent shouldn't be forgotten. He was a two-time All-Star before the trade and had a successful 10-year run with the Padres, helping them capture their first National League pennant in 1984 while showing off some flashy defense of his own:
Templeton was later elected to the Padres Hall of Fame in 2015.
Smith turned out to be the true prize of the trade, though. He made 14 of the next 15 NL All-Star teams, improved his hitting much more than he ever showed in San Diego, stole 433 bases and, of course, played otherworldly defense:
There were even more highlights, like Smith's stunning walk-off homer against the Dodgers' Tom Niedenfuer to win Game 5 of the 1985 NLCS. In over 1,100 career games, the switch-hitter had never gone deep against a right-handed pitcher.
Ozzie was truly something special.