Already 26 years old and with just seven Big League appearances under his belt when that rookie card hit store shelves in the spring of 1982, Smith spent the ’82 and ’83 seasons as a long man in the Expos bullpen.
In 1984, though, he made his way into the rotation and went 12-13 with a 3.32 ERA in 28 starts.
In a Sports Illustrated article penned by Peter Gammons in July 1989, Smith and his wife Patti expounded at length on the difficulties of being Americans living in Canada. Their laments included having to drive across the border to procure Doritos and facing ridicule when asking for ice in their soda.
In the aftermath, Smith faced more ridicule — or at least teasing — for his views, and you have to wonder if the situation played a role in how his free agency played out that winter.
Because, in November of 1989, Smith signed on to return to the the St. Louis Cardinals (they had drafted him way back in June 1973, but he didn’t sign with them then).
After three seasons in St. Louis, Smith hit the open market again at age 37 before signing a modest free agent contract with the expansion Colorado Rockies in December of 1992.
Smith was more than on-hand when the Rockies stormed into Denver for their first-ever home game on April 9 … he was on the mound.
The old man pitched seven innings of six-hit, scoreless ball, striking out one and giving up zero walks.
Willie Blair relieved Smith in the eighth and was similarly solid. And, even though Steve Reed blew up in the ninth, allowing four men to score, the Rockies notched the first win in franchise history by a score of 11-4.
Their opponent on that long-ago Friday night?
The Montreal Expos, of course.
No word on whether Smith celebrated his victory with a bag of chips, but he would make just four more starts, during which his ERA ballooned to 8.49.
The Rockies released him in June, and Smith was done.
Thanks to Tito and Mills, though, we’ll always have a soft spot for they Bryn Smith rookie card.
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