Earl Smith (smithea03)
Earl Calvin Smith
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 185 lb.
- School California State University, Fresno
- High School Bonita High School
- Debut April 14, 1955
- Final Game April 29, 1955
- Born March 14, 1928 in Sunnyside, WA USA
- Died September 27, 2014 in Fresno, CA USA
Outfielder Earl Smith was signed as an amateur free agent before the 1949 season by the Pittsburgh Pirates and spent his first season in pro ball with the Keokuk Pirates of the Central Association, hitting .324 with 4 homers in 69 games. Earl was with the Modesto Reds in 1950 where he led the California League with 167 base hits, hit .324 with 19 homers, helped his team win the league playoff title and played in the outfield on the All-Star team.
After three average seasons (1951-1953) Earl had a break-out year in 1954 with the Phoenix Stars helping his team win the Arizona-Texas League pennant with a .387 batting average along with 32 home runs and a league-leading 195 RBIs. His showing earned him a promotion to the big leagues in 1955. Smith appeared in 5 games for the Pirates, hit .063, or 1 for 16 and spent the rest of the year with Phoenix, the Lincoln Chiefs and the New Orleans Pelicans, where he appeared in a combined 100 outings, hitting .262 with 5 homers. His main claim to fame as a major leaguer was that he wore uniform number 21 at the start of the 1955 season; after he was sent down to the minors, it was taken up by rookie Roberto Clemente, who had worn number 13 up until then. He was thus the penultimate Pirates player to wear the number, as it was retired following Clemente's untimely death in 1972.
The 28-year-old Smith tried one more season and in 1956 he appeared again with three different teams, the Fresno Cardinals, Savannah Redlegs and Lincoln again, playing in 102 games, hitting .294 with 10 homers. He decided to call it a career after eight seasons in pro baseball. Earl had great minor league stats, appearing in 830 games, hitting at a .299 clip and busting 93 homers. Earl, a graduate of Fresno State University, was a grocery store owner and until retirement operated an almond farm in Fresno, CA.