San Francisco Giants minor league pitching coach and long-time major leaguer Lee Smith has been elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Giants announced on Sunday.
Lee, who pitched 18 seasons in the majors as a closer, pitching for the Chicago Cubs (1980-87), Boston Red Sox (1988-90), St. Louis Cardinals (1990-92), New York Yankees (1993), Baltimore Orioles (1994), California Angels (1995), Cincinnati Reds (1996) and Montreal Expos (1997). He is ranked third all-time in Major League Baseball with 478 saves, trailing only Yankees legend Mariano Rivera with 652 and long-time San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffmann with 601.
Two years after his retirement in 1998, Smith was hired as a roving minor league pitching instructor for the Giants, after former teammate Dick Tidrow and the manager of the Double-A Shreveport Captains, Jack Hiatt, offered him the job.
Lee’s path to Cooperstown was thanks to the Hall of Fame’s Today’s Game Era Committee. His resume, on top of the career saves total, includes seven selections to the All-Star Game and 10 30-save seasons. While on the BBWAA ballot, Smith never reached 51 percent of votes. He became the seventh pitcher who was mostly a reliever to make the Hall of Fame.