Lee Smith was a dominant Cubs closer from 1980 until he was traded away after the 1987 season, including three 30-save seasons and being the closer on the Cubs’ 1984 N.L. East championship team.
Smith played for seven other teams after he left the Cubs: the Cardinals, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Orioles, Expos and Reds. Overall he posted 478 saves, which still ranks third all-time behind Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman.
In his eight Cubs seasons he posted a 2.92 ERA and 1.255 WHIP in 458 career appearances, with 644 strikeouts in 681⅓ innings.
Smith had a rough year in his final year with the Cubs in 1987, with 12 blown saves, and at times was booed off the mound. At the end of that season, it was felt that the Cubs needed to move on from him and he was traded to the Red Sox for Al Nipper and Calvin Schiraldi, one of the worst deals in recent Cubs history. Smith would go on to post six more 30-save seasons and three of more than 40, although he pitched in just one postseason after he left the Cubs, with the 1988 Red Sox.
Here’s Smith recording the final outs of Game 2 of the 1984 NLCS for the Cubs:
Congratulations to Lee Smith on his election to the Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony in Cooperstown, New York will take place Sunday, July 22. There should be a good contingent of Cubs fans there to welcome Smith to the Hall.