Miami Marlins

From big-league baseball to small-town politics, the odyssey of a former Marlins pitcher

Chuck Smith in action against the Philadelphia Phillies in a 2000 game in which he allowed four hits and struck out 11 over eight innings.
Chuck Smith in action against the Philadelphia Phillies in a 2000 game in which he allowed four hits and struck out 11 over eight innings. AP

As a pitcher for the Florida Marlins more than a decade ago, Chuck Smith was the one in charge every time he took the mound. These days, he’s running the show as mayor of a small, inner-city town in Ohio.

"I got my shot," Smith said of his brief but bright big-league career. "I did it. They can never take that way from me."

Smith was a 30-year-old journeyman, rising from obscurity when he reached the majors with the Marlins in 2000. But he became one of the team’s top starters, winning the club’s rookie of the year award after going 6-6.

The following season, an arm injury brought his major league career to an end. Smith bounced around in the minors for four more years, but was never able to make it back.

In 2009, he was elected mayor of the suburban Cleveland town of Woodmere, close to where Smith was raised and learned to play baseball.

"I was a kid that was playing baseball in what was previously a dump -- literally, where people dumped trash," Smith told Cleveland station Channel 19. "To this day, I’m still the only player to play in the major leagues who came from that dump."

As a reminder of his baseball career, Smith keeps his old Florida Marlins jersey and 2000 rookie of the year plaque in his office.

"Baseball and politics do translate," Smith said in this 2009 interview.

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