Hands down, Schmidt among greatest ever
By Craig Muder
His hands settled around the shaft of the golf club, then drew back for his practice swing.
The power of that swing — the legendary power of Michael Jack Schmidt — was still apparent, even if the familiar baseball bat had been replaced by the metal wood.
Those hands — an unforgettable instinct.
Schmidt, who will turn 60 in less than three weeks, is still fit and trim. The once-red hair is now gray, but the body looks to be not far removed from his playing days with the Phillies. At the very least, it would be easy to picture Schmidt on the Champions Tour.
The Hall of Fame third baseman was in Cooperstown this weekend, and on Tuesday he teed off at the Pro-Am for the Otesaga Hotel Seniors Open. Schmidt served as the celebrity host of the tournament, which benefits Pathfinder Village, located in nearby Edmeston, N.Y., a residential community dedicated to children and adults with Down syndrome. The tournament also benefits the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“No charity I’ve ever been associated with is more deserving of a tournament like this,” said Schmidt of Pathfinder Village. “I’ve played in this tournament a couple times now, and it’s always great to come back.”
Schmidt spent 18 seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1972-89, winning eight National League home run titles and three NL MVP awards.
But his greatest thrill as a pro athlete just might have come on the famous Leatherstocking Golf Course in Cooperstown.
“I’m not playing in the Seniors Open this year, but I did a couple years ago and actually finished third in my flight. I got a check for $700. When you’re up against competition like this — great senior pros from around the country — that’s pretty good.”
Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.