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Ozzie Smith adventure-bound, hopeful Cardinals ‘turn things around’

Ozzie Smith adventure-bound, hopeful Cardinals ‘turn things around’

ST. LOUIS – Ozzie Smith is as busy as ever in his post-baseball career, but he’s following this year’s St. Louis Cardinals team quite closely. That’s not too much of a surprise, nor should it be that he expects more.

The 15-time All-Star, 13-time Gold Glove winner, 1982 World Series Champion and first-ballot National Baseball Hall of Famer spoke one-on-one with FOX 2 about a variety of topics earlier this week.

At the forefront, the state of this year’s St. Louis Cardinals, who are 10-14 after nearly one month of games and coming off a rare losing season last year.

FOX 2 recently asked Ozzie, “Where do you feel like [the Cardinals] are at this year?” To which he candidly offered this reply…

“Well, I mean, you can always be better. We got to pitch better. We got to play better. To this point, we haven’t. Just hoping we can get on a hot streak and turn things around.”

Nearly three decades since his MLB sendoff, Ozzie still has close ties to the Cardinals organization. There’s been a lot happening in his life recently too, both in baseball and beyond. Let’s take a closer look…

New Drink

Ozzie promoted his new adult beverage brand BackFLIP on Tuesday during a meet-and-greet event Tuesday afternoon at the Schnucks in Richmond Heights.

BackFLIP consists of canned cocktails in lemonade and paloma flavors. The cans show Ozzie performing his signature backflip from the 1980s. The beverages were made available in select Schnucks stores earlier this month.

Ozzie says the inspiration for the drink came during a golf tournament he recently hosted.

“We thought it would be nice piece to have at the golf course,” said Smith. “People liked it so much, then they asked me, ‘Where could we get it?’ That was kind of the impetus for bringing it to the market. We’re now bringing it to market and benefiting the PGA REACH and veterans. It’s something I’m very proud of, to help give back, and people like it.

Smith is the President of the Gateway Chapter of the PGA in St. Louis. A portion of every BackFLIP can sold will be donated to PGA REACH Gateway Foundation.

While promoting the drink, Smith met fans and signed autographs for nearly an hour on Tuesday.

Remembering Whitey

Whitey Herzog, the decorated St. Louis Cardinals manager of the 1980s, died last week at the age of 92. Herzog also served as general manager for several years with the Cardinals, an opportunity that helped him land Ozzie in a trade with the San Diego Padres in 1981.

Ozzie and Whitey would win a World Series title the very next season, in addition to two more NL pennants together. Ozzie says his long-time manager’s impact stretches beyond baseball.

“He’s the reason I’m here in St. Louis, [and] why I called St. Louis home,” said Smith. “He came to get me in the winter of 1981, and I’ve been here ever since. He’s meant a lot to me as a person, as a friend, and in many instances as a father figure for a lot of us. Not to mention, the excitement he brought here as far as baseball is concerned.”

Gold Gloves

Ozzie gathered with officials from the St. Louis Cardinals and Rawlings Sporting Goods on April 12 to mark the grand opening of “The Rawlings Experience: St. Louis.” The new one-of-a-kind attraction is located at Westport Plaza in Maryland Heights, also part of the relocated Rawlings headquarters.

The immersive experience offers displays of Gold Glove memorabilia, in addition to baseball gloves of the past and present. The venue also features batting cages, gift shops and a big golden ball for photo opportunities outdoors. Of course, there’s a fitting tribute to Ozzie Smith as well.

Ozzie and several others cut the ribbon to open the experience earlier this month. He also took photos with several fans in attendance.

Next Generation

Ozzie makes it a priority to visit Jupiter, Florida, each spring and work with Cardinals of all ages and backgrounds.

Two people he has worked with closely are veteran third baseman Nolan Arenado and rookie shortstop Masyn Winn.

The Cardinals produced a video last month with Ozzie taking ground balls side-by-side with Arenado and talking defense, something they’re both quite passionate about. “I don’t look at it as a chore or something that I got to do, just to say I did it. I actually enjoy coming out here and working on my fielding,” Arenado told Smith.

Winn debuted with Uniform No. 0 last year to choose the available number closest to Smith. He says Ozzie has helped him make improvements with fielding and understand the ins and outs of being a major-league ball player.

“It’s amazing,” Winn told FOX 2 during spring training. “Growing up, looking up to Ozzie and guys like Willie McGee, it’s pretty incredible that this organization has the alumni and love from the alumni to come back. It just goes to show what kind of organization this is. Once you put on that jersey, once you wear the birds on the bat, you’re a Cardinal forever.”

Ozzie offered kind remarks on Winn and his close friend Jordan Walker on Tuesday.

“Great young player. Just hope they give him the opportunity to play every day,” said Ozzie on Winn. “He’s young, just like Walker. They’re going to make mistakes. Now’s the time to allow them to go out and play, make those mistakes, and hopefully they grow as players.”

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