Schmidt is one of those obnoxiously loyal characters like Craig Biggio or Jeff Bagwell who spent their entire career with one team. For Schmidt, that team was one of the more obnoxious ones in the history of American sports. The Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies drafted Schmidt in the second round of the 1971 draft. All of their fans gathered around and booed and then chucked rotten eggs at Schmidt. PROBABLY.
Schmidt didn’t need much time in the minors to prove he was ready to hit Major League pitching. As a 21-year-old, he spent the season with the AA Reading Phillies. He was promoted before the 1972 season to the AAA Eugene Emeralds. Because he apparently had dreamy green eyes! In Eugene, he hit .291/.409/.550 with 26 home runs and 91 RBIs in 531 plate appearances.
His minor-league performance earned him a September call-up, and Schmidt made his Major League debut on September 12, 1972. 5,057 AMAZING Phillies fans were in attendance to see the debut of one of their all-time greatest players. Because fuck you, Philly. Yogi Berra’s Mets came to Veterans Stadium with Andy-Dolan-favorite Don Money starting at third base. Money’s ankle probably exploded, or something, because Schmidt was called in to replace him in the top of the second inning. Schmidt went 1-3 with two strikeouts and a walk as the Phillies lost 4-3.
Schmidt didn’t exactly Wally Pipp Money, but he saw quite a bit of time in the Phillies’ remaining games of that 1972 season. In fact, Schmidt was in the starting lineup on October 2, 1972 when the Phillies came to Chicago to face Rick Reuschel and Whitey Lockman’s Cubs. Schmidt went 1-3 with a strikeout before yielding to poor Don Money, who tripled and drove in a run in his only at-bat. Schmidt’s Major League career against the Cubs was afoot.
By the end of the 1972 season, the Phillies had seen enough of Schmidt to ship Money off to the Milwaukee Brewers (I wish they had sent Money along with cash) prior to the 1973 season, and the starting third base job was Schmidt’s.
Over the course of his 18-year MLB career, Schmidt compiled Hall of Fame numbers, batting .267/.380/.527 with 548 home runs and 1,595 RBIs. He was elected to twelve All-Star Games, won three MVP awards, and ten Gold Gloves, including nine in a row from 1976-1984. He won the World Series MVP Award in 1980 when the Phillies bested the Kansas City Royals in six games. He won six straight Silver Slugger Awards from 1980-1986. And, oh yes, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.
He has a lot of accolades, and he was a hell of a good player. But holy balls, just take a look at his numbers against the Cubs.
In 1,142 total plate appearances against the Cubs, Schmidt compiled a .292/.387/.598 slash line. That’s impressive, but not crazily impressive compared to his career numbers. But just look at those numbers in comparison to what he did against the rest of the league.
Schmidt hit 78 home runs against the Cubs, sixteen more than he did against his second-best opponent (the Pittsburgh Pirates). His absurd 207 RBIs were 19 more than he had against the Pirates and 45 more than against his third-best opponent, the Mets. To put Schmidt’s numbers against the Cubs into perspective, if you prorated them out to a 162-start against the Cubs, he would have hit 49 home runs and driven in 129 RBIs.
Schmidt was far, far more deadly at Wrigley Field, where he batted .307/.396/.653 with FIFTY home runs and 124 RBIs in 611 plate appearances. Project THOSE 134 starts to a 162-game season, and suddenly Schmidt hits 60 home runs and drives in 150 RBIs.
Suffice it to say, if you went to a Phillies game at Wrigley Field for most of the ’70s or ’80s, Mike Schmidt was going to ruin your day. Like, for example…
Why You Should Hate Him: April 17, 1976. Remember how Rick Reuschel threw the first pitches Mike Schmidt ever saw against Cub pitching, and it didn’t go that poorly? Rick made up for it here. So did Mike Garman and Paul Reuschel. Schmidt homered FOUR times off those three Cub pitchers. In fact, no one got Schmidt out after the top of the second inning. In the top of the fourth, the Cubs had built a 12-1 lead off a seven-run second inning and a five-run third. Schmidt got his first hit of many, a harmless leadoff single. Then, Schmidt went to work. In the top of the fifth, with two outs and the Cubs clinging to a 13-2 lead, Schmidt launched a two-run homer to cut the lead…TO NINE. The Phillies were behind 13-6 when Schmidt stepped up again in the seventh inning and launched a solo shot to make it 13-7 Cubs. IN THE SEVENTH INNING. The Phillies were batting with two outs and bases loaded in the top of the eighth inning when Dick Allen hit a 2-run single to make it 13-9 Cubs. Schmidt follow with a three-run blast (his third homer of the day) off Mike Garman to make it 13-12 and to make Cubs fans everywhere groan. The Phillies managed to take a 15-13 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, but Steve Swisher tied the game with a dramatic two-run, two-out single off Tug McGraw. Well, as dramatic as a game-tying hit can be after your team surrenders an 11-run lead in five innings. Like a mental patient, the Cubs were still going right at Schmidt when he came up in the top of the tenth. This time, it was Paul Reuschel’s turn to serve up a two-run homer to Schmidt. The Phillies scored another in that inning and went on to win 18-16 in a game the Cubs had led 12-1. Ugh.
Also, this guy has absolutely no chance to ever make it to the top of a Google search, even if he did write the hilarious radio banter in the first Saints Row game.