Dwight Smith, who as a rookie in 1989 helped the Chicago Cubs win the National League East title, died Friday. He was 58.
The Atlanta Braves, with whom Smith earned a World Series ring in 1995, tweeted the news Friday afternoon.
Smith, a Tallahassee, Fla., native, 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 manager Don Zimmer. They lost to the San Francisco Giants in five games in the NL 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, he hit .285 with 32 home runs and 159 RBIs with a 111 OPS+.
When the Cubs — who drafted Smith out of Spartanburg (S.C.) 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 home — and almost like your parents put you out.”
He split his 1994 season between the Angels and Orioles before playing he final two seasons of his career with the Braves. In 813 major-league games, Smith slashed .275/.341/.433 with a 103 OPS+ and 2.1 WAR.
His son, Dwight Smith Jr., played parts of four major-league seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and Orioles from 2017-20. He began this season with the Charlotte (N.C.) Knights, the Chicago White Sox’s Triple-A affiliate.