Teaching Students About Ozzie Smith: Celebrating a Baseball Legend


Osborne Earl “Ozzie” Smith, fondly known as “The Wizard,” is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) player who played for the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Padres. As one of the greatest shortstops in the history of the sport, teaching students about his life and accomplishments not only offers a valuable lesson on dedication and perseverance but also encourages them to appreciate and engage with sports.

Early Life and Career

Ozzie Smith was born on December 26, 1954, in Mobile, Alabama. His family moved to Watts, California, where he was raised. Smith’s father encouraged him to participate in sports and instilled in him the importance of education. As a result, he excelled both academically and athletically throughout high school.

Smith attended California Polytechnic State University on a partial athletic scholarship, where he continued to play baseball. After college, he was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 1977 MLB Draft.

Achievements and Contributions

Ozzie Smith made his MLB debut for the San Diego Padres in 1978, quickly establishing himself as an exceptional defensive player. In 1982, he joined the St. Louis Cardinals via a trade and stayed with them until his retirement in 1996.

Throughout his illustrious career, Smith amassed numerous accolades and records:

  1. 13 consecutive Gold Glove Awards (1980-1992)
  2. 15-time MLB All-Star (1981-1996)
  3. World Series champion with the Cardinals in 1982
  4. National League Championship Series MVP (1985)
  5. Inducted into Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002

Smith also made various contributions that extended beyond his playing career:

  1. Serving as a commentator for CNN-SI and later for MLB.com
  2. Volunteering in coaching clinics and sharing his skills with young athletes
  3. Participating in numerous charitable activities and community programs

 Legacy and Impact

Ozzie Smith’s legendary status in baseball transcended his on-field performance. His commitment to excellence, determination, passion, and sportsmanship left an indelible mark on the sport. By teaching students about Ozzie Smith, they’re not only learning about the game but also being inspired by an athlete who excelled despite the challenges he faced.

Classroom Activities and Discussions

To help students understand and appreciate Ozzie Smith’s contributions, educators can incorporate a variety of activities and discussions:

  1. Present a lecture on Ozzie Smith’s life, career achievements, and impact on baseball.
  2. Share videos of Smith’s spectacular plays or highlights from his career for students to analyze.
  3. Discuss the importance of perseverance, dedication, and sportsmanship in sports and other areas of life.
  4. Encourage students to engage in a research project about Ozzie Smith or other influential athletes.
  5. Organize a visit to a local baseball field or a museum that focuses on sports history for students to experience the sport firsthand.

By incorporating these activities in the classroom, educators can create a well-rounded learning experience for students while instilling appreciation and enthusiasm for sports like baseball. By learning about Ozzie Smith’s accomplishments, they’ll understand that perseverance and determination can pave the way for success both in sports and life in general.

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