Bud Smith

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Robert Allan Smith

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Biographical Information[edit]

Bud Smith was a rookie when he pitched a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on September 3, 2001, in a 4-0 St. Louis Cardinals victory. In doing so, he became the 16th rookie in the modern era and the 18th since 1900 to throw a no-hitter.

Playing in the Minors[edit]

Smith was nicknamed "Bud" by his construction working father because the kid always brought him a Budweiser when the workday was done. After graduating from high school, he was selected by the Detroit Tigers in 9th round of the 1997 amateur draft. He chose not to sign, instead attending a local community college. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 4th round of the 1998 amateur draft.

Smith rocketed through the minor leagues. By 2000, he was with the Cardinals' AA affiliate, the Arkansas Travelers of the Texas League and well on his way to the majors. Smith posted a 12-1 record, with a 2.32 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, and struck out 102 in 108 2/3 innings. He was promoted to the AAA Memphis Redbirds, where he continued to excell with a 5-1 record, 2.15 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.

Smith swept the pitching awards for that year, as he was named to the Baseball America First Team Minor League All-Star SP, St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year, Texas League Pitcher of the Year, Texas League All-Star P, Double-A All-Star SP and AA Player of the Year.

Reaching the Majors and the No-Hitter[edit]

The 2001 season saw Smith split time between the Memphis Redbirds and the St. Louis Cardinals. At Memphis, he posted a 8-5 record with a 2.75 ERA, and was promoted to the big leagues. At AAA, he was named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star Team. The rest of the season he went 6-3 with a 3.83 ERA, solid numbers for a rookie. The Cardinals made the playoffs that season, and Smith won his first and only playoff start. In Game 4 of the NLDS, he pitched 5 innings, allowing 4 walks and 4 hits and 1 earned run, striking out 2 Arizona Diamondbacks. Smith finished fourth in voting for the National League Rookie of the Year.

In his start before the no-no against the same Padres, Smith allowed 7 runs, 5 earned, off 5 hits and 4 walks in 3 1/3 innings. In his no-hitter, he threw 134 pitches in the game and it is believed that his high pitch count led to his arm troubles afterwards.

"I was shaking out there knowing that I was going for a no-hitter. I was going on adrenaline," Smith said. "I started thinking about the no-hitter about the sixth or seventh inning. I knew I had the stuff to do it." [1]

Whether it was the 134 pitch no-hitter, or that he threw a whopping 197 2/3 innings that season, we will never know why he developed shoulder troubles.

"I pitched about 160 innings in 2000, in the minors," he said, referring to a 17-2 season in which he pitched 163 innings. "I pitched 157 the year before that. In 2001 I threw almost 200. Whether that did it or not, who knows?" [2]

The Trade[edit]

In the 2002 season, Smith began the season on the 15-day disabled list, and was not activated until May 7th. On May 15th he was optioned down to Memphis, recalled on June 4th, then sent down again on July 20th. Though he pitched solidly in the minors (3-0 record, 2.13 ERA in 6 starts), he struggled with the Cardinals (1-5, 6.94 ERA, 11 games/10 starts). Nine days after he was sent down, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies with reliever Mike Timlin and infielder Placido Polanco for disgruntled third baseman Scott Rolen, reliever Doug Nickle and cash.

Smith was seen as the lynchpin of the "Scott Rolen trade" - hopefully becoming the front-line starter the Phillies had been missing since Curt Schilling had pitched for them.

After the Trade[edit]

Smith finished the 2002 season with the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, with an 0-1 record and 4.15 ERA in 3 starts. Though not dominating numbers, he still showed promise. That October, Smith had a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder surgically repaired in October. It was clear to the Phillies that they had been given "damaged goods." [3]

The 2003 season saw Smith start back at square one. He pitched one inning in spring training for the Phillies, then was sent to the low minors to work back his strength. He began the season working 12 games with the Class A Clearwater Phillies and AA Reading Phillies. Smith looked good in Clearwater, with a 1.47 ERA but struggled with Reading and had a 5.85 ERA there. He ended the season on the disabled list with shoulder soreness. [4]

By 2004, the Phillies hoped simply that Smith would be able to make it back to the majors, much less be a top-of-the-rotation starter. He was invited to Spring Training, and pitched 6 2/3 innings in 4 games, with a disappointing 5.40 ERA. He did strike out 6 batters, so perhaps Smith still had his "stuff." Days before the season began, Smith was designated for assignment on March 24th, then outrighted to the AAA Red Barons three days later.

After his first start for the Red Barons, he felt pain in his shoulder and was placed on the disabled list three days later on April 17th. More than two months later, Smith returned, pitching 2 innings for Clearwater on June 20th. Smith finished well in 5 starts (0-1 record, 3.95 ERA).

After the Phillies[edit]

After being released by the Phillies, Smith was signed by the Minnesota Twins for the 2005 season. In 3 games for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, he went 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA. He had shoulder surgery again, and did not pitch again in 2005.

For the 2006 season, Smith pitched for the Long Beach Armada of the independent Golden Baseball League. After three shoulder surgeries, and now pitching in what was considered the bottom rung of the independent leagues, Smith looked at other options as his 82 mph change-up didn't return to the high-80s. Smith was the pitching coach that spring at St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, CA, his alma mater. He also helped Miguel Flores, who became the Padres' 37th-round draft pick. [5]

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Will Leitch: "Bud Smith's unbelievable no-hitter: It would soon be lost amidst an American tragedy", mlb.com, January 13, 2022. [1]

Related Sites[edit]


  1. AP (September 3, 2001). "Rookie Smith pitches improbable no-hitter". ESPN.com. AP Wire. Retrieved July 23, 2006.
  2. Mark Whicker (July 21, 2006). "The Armada's Bud Battles On". OCregister.com. Orange County Register. Retrieved July 23, 2006.
  3. AP (June 20, 2004). "Smith Makes Minor League Start". ESPN.com. MLB News Wire. Retrieved July 23, 2006.
  4. AP (June 20, 2004). "Smith Makes Minor League Start". ESPN.com. MLB News Wire. Retrieved July 23, 2006.
  5. Mark Whicker (July 21, 2006). "The Armada's Bud Battles On". OCregister.com. Orange County Register. Retrieved July 23, 2006.