Dave Smith died of a heart attack yesterday. That's a loss to his family. That's a loss to his friends. That's a loss to Astros nation.
Those who didn't come along for the Astros ride until Minute Maid Park might not really know who Dave Smith is. After all, his number is not one of the thousands retired by Drayton McLane. But at one time, Smith held the Astros record for career saves (199). And he still holds the club record for appearances (562), relief wins (53), relief innings (760), and games finished (400). And in the times when Dave Smith pitched, he didn't just pitch the ninth inning and get three outs when the team had a three run lead.
No, Dave Smith was a true relief pitcher. He pitched multiple innings, when the game was actually on the line.
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Dave Smith pitched for the Astros from 1980 through 1990, then he spent his final two seasons with the Chicago Cubs. He also did some coaching from the San Diego Padres. And, depressingly, he's the third member of the Houston Astros 1980 pitching staff to die within the past two years, joining Joe Niekro and Vern Ruhle.
I would like to say more about Dave Smith. I would like to write much, much more because that's what he deserves. But I'm not a closer, and I just don't know how to say what all needs to be said. Except that Astros nation misses you.
Rest in peace.
-- John Royal