Growing up outside of St. Louis in the 1930s, Al Smith’s favorite player was Joe Medwick. Like his hero, Smith became a big league outfielder, and like Medwick, Smith became famous for what fans threw at him during a World Series game.
In Game Two of the 1959 World Series between Smith’s Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers, Al drifted back to the left field wall to track a fly ball hit by Charlie Neal. As Smith settled to reach for the ball, a waterfall of beer flooded down on him, drenching his cap and splashing onto his face. The ball was uncatchable and landed three rows back for a home run, but the sight of Smith getting beer spilled on him was immortalized in a series of photos in the newspaper the next day. Like Medwick, who had been removed from a game in the 1934 World Series after Detroit fans pelted him with fruit and garbage, Smith was famous for having something spilled on him in the spotlight of the Fall Classic.
Smith was a good ballplayer, reaching double figures in homers in ten straight seasons while exhibiting patience at the plate. He fashioned a career .358 on-base percentage and also proved versatile, playing six different positions in his 12-year career (right, left, third, center, shortstop, and second base).
He played for manager Al Lopez on both of his pennant-winning teams, in 1954 with Cleveland and 1959 for Chicago. Those were the only two teams other than the New York Yankees to win pennants in the 1950s.
Smith had his best season in 1955 when he led the AL with 123 runs scored and batted .306 with a .407 OBP and .473 SLG. That season he finished third in MVP voting behind Yogi Berra and Al Kaline.
Loved to Face: Mudcat Grant – Smith batted .382 (21-for-55) with four homers and 16 RBI against Grant. Smith’s SLG mark against Grant was a gaudy .655.
Hated to Face: In 97 career at-bats against curveball specialist Camilo Pascual, Smith struck out 18 times and batted just .165. Smith hit just .147 (14-for-95) against lefty Billy Pierce, another pitcher known for a good breaking pitch. He never hit a homer off Pierce.