Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Busch Is Abuzz with Talk of Ozzie

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Busch Is Abuzz with Talk of Ozzie

Article excerpt

Cardinals fans did not have to wait for the video montage or Osborne Earl Smith's pregame salute to the crowd at Busch Stadium on Wednesday to find out that the shortstop will wear a Cardinal uniform for only 48 more regular-season home games.

In fact, many fans filing into Busch Stadium were reflecting upon Smith's career before he even completed the news conference at which he announced his retirement.

"I think it's been a foregone conclusion for some time that this is Ozzie's last year," said John Braucksieker, a Cardinals fan for over 30 years, on his way into the game with his son. "Personally, I think it's been drawn out a little too much, but the timing is never good for a retirement."

Chatter about the announcement resonated around Stan Musial's statue, inside the gates to Homer's Landing and throughout the bleachers, filled with the regular early arrivals.

"We heard it on the radio this morning," said Matt Freeze, 14, who occupied a spot in Homer's Landing with his friend, Mike Levin. "So we thought we'd come out. It's kind of like we're paying our respect to him."

Suddenly the afternoon took on a "Tribute to Ozzie" mood among Cardinal fans, whom Smith called "undoubtedly the greatest sports fans in the world."

The marriage of Smith and the St. Louis community began Feb. 11, 1982, when the Cardinals sent temperamental shortstop Garry Templeton to San Diego for Smith.

"I admire him for doing what he does," Webster Groves native Margaret Karleskint said. "I call it inspiration."

After various media outlets confirmed the news, the grapevine quickly twisted to discussion of issues such as Smith's timing for the announcement, his future with the organization and his place in Cardinals' lore.

Many fans cited Smith's relegation to backup shortstop behind Royce Clayton as the reason for the retirement. After a season shortened by elbow surgery, Smith has only 67 at-bats through 69 games. …

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