Dwight Smith, who as a rookie in 1989 helped the Chicago Cubs win the NL East title, dies at 58

Dwight Smith, who as a rookie in 1989 helped the Chicago Cubs win the NL East title, died Friday. He was 58 years old.

The Atlanta Braves, with whom Smith won a World Series ring in 1995, tweeted the news Friday afternoon.

“We are saddened by the passing of Dwight Smith, an integral member of our 1995 World Series Championship team,” the tweet read.

Smith, a native of Tallahassee, Fla., was runner-up to Cubs teammate Jerome Walton for NL Rookie of the Year in 1989, when the Cubs finished 93-69 to win the East under Don Zimmer. . They lost to the San Francisco Giants in five games in the National League Championship Series.

Smith, an outfielder and pinch hitter in eight major league seasons with the Cubs, California Angels, Baltimore Orioles and Braves, hit .324 in 111 games as a rookie with a 141 OPS+. In five seasons in Chicago , hit .285 with 32 home runs and 159 RBIs with an OPS+ of 111.

The Cubs also offered their condolences.

When the Cubs, who drafted Smith from Spartanburg (SC) Methodist College in 1984, released him after the 1993 season, Smith was distraught.

“It hurt me,” Smith told the Tribune on Dec. 27, 1993. “It was an organization that I loved. It was almost like being at home, and almost like your parents kicked you out.”

He split his 1994 season between the Angels and Orioles before playing the final two seasons of his career with the Braves. In 813 major league games, Smith slashed .275/.341/.433 with a 103 OPS+ and 2.6 WAR.

His son, Dwight Smith Jr., 29, played parts of four major league seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and Orioles from 2017 to 2020. He started this season with the Charlotte (NC) Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.

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