Pitcher, Baseball Player
1957 – 1983
Who was Lee Smith?
Lee Arthur Smith is a retired American right-handed baseball pitcher who played 18 years in Major League Baseball for eight teams. Pitching primarily for the Chicago Cubs, with whom he spent his first eight seasons, Lee served mostly as a relief pitcher during his career. One of the dominant closers in baseball history, Smith held the major league record for career saves from 1993 until 2006, when San Diego Padres relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman passed his final total of 478.
A native of Jamestown in Bienville Parish in north Louisiana, Smith was scouted by Buck O'Neil and drafted by the Cubs in the 1975 Major League Baseball Draft. Smith was an intimidating figure on the pitcher's mound at 6 feet, 6 inches and 265 pounds with a 95 mile per hour fastball. In 1991, Smith set a National League record with 47 saves for the St. Louis Cardinals, and was runner-up for the league's Cy Young Award; it was the second of three times he led the NL in saves, and he later led the American League once while with the Baltimore Orioles in 1994. He also set the major league career record for games finished, and his 1,022 career games pitched were the third-most in history when he retired; he still holds the team records for career saves for the Cubs, and he also held the Cardinals record until 2006.