September 21 – Happy Birthday Elmer Smith
You most likely never heard of today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant but he was the valuable fourth outfielder on the Yankees first-ever World Championship team in 1923. Smith played 70 games for Manager Miller Huggins’ team that year. Back then the Yankees would frequently switch Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel between left and right field. The left-hand hitting Smith would usually play right field against right handed pitching with Babe in left. He thrived in that role, hitting .306 with 7 home runs and 35 RBIs in just 183 at bats.
The native of Erie County, Ohio had been an outfielder for the Indians during most of his big league career, which had been interrupted by military service during WWI. Smith’s best big league season was 1920, when he hit .316 for Cleveland with 103 RBIs. In Game 5 of that year’s World Series between Cleveland and Brooklyn, he hit the first Grand Slam in World Series history. He had been traded to Boston during the 1922 regular season and the Yankees had acquired him and Joe Dugan from the Red Sox a year later. Perhaps Smith’s biggest contribution to Yankee history was the January 7, 1924 transaction that sent him and $50,000 of Yankee owner Jake Ruppert’s money to the Louisville Colonels of the American Association in exchange for center-fielder and future Hall of Famer, Earle Combs. Smith ended up living in Kentucky after his playing days were over and he died there in 1984, at the age of 91.