April 26, 1992: Ozzie Smith swipes his 500th career stolen base

Heading into the 1992 season, Ozzie Smith was on the cusp of history.

With 499 career stolen bases, was set to become just the 16th player in Major League Baseball history to steal 500 bases. However, heading into the Cardinals’ April 26 game against the Expos, The Wizard had yet to steal a base and had only tried once.

At Busch Stadium, he responded by stealing not only his 500th base, but swiping two more for good measure.

Smith captured his milestone in the fourth inning after leading off with a single. With Todd Zeile at the plate, Smith took off on 2-0 pitch. The umpire ruled him safe. Then the fans began to chant his name.

“It’s a great achievement when you think about the number of people who have played the game, to be only the 16th one to do it,” said Smith, who took off his helmet and saluted the fans in response to their cheers. “I guess when you’re around a long time, things like that happen.”[1]

Smith didn’t stay at 500 stolen bases for long. Zeile drew a walk, and with Brian Jordan at the plate, Expos starter Chris Haney attempted to pick off Zeile at first. Smith took advantage of the distraction to steal third.

Smith singled again to lead off the sixth but was stranded at third. In the eighth, he singled to center field and stole second base on Haney’s first pitch to Zeile. It marked the 10th time in his career that Smith had stolen three bases in a game.

Unfortunately, Smith provided the bulk of the Cardinals’ offense in the 6-0 loss as Haney held the Cardinals to just five hits in the complete-game effort. He struck out eight.

Haney said the key was keeping leadoff man Ray Lankford off base so that Smith’s base hits didn’t turn into rallies.

“I mean, those three singles were hit so that they could have easily moved Lankford to third if he’d somehow been on,” Haney said. “Lankford on third? We’re talking trouble then.”[2]

Smith went on to steal 43 bases in 1992 while batting .295. He made his 12th all-star game appearance that season and won his 13th and final Gold Glove Award.

Following the 1996 season, he retired with 580 career stolen bases.


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[1] Vahe Gregorian, “Ozzie Gets Milestone 500th Stolen Base,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 27, 1992.

[2] Jeff Blair, “Haney delivers nifty wake-up call,” Montreal Gazette, April 27, 1992.

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