Lonnie Smith Wanted To Shoot John Schuerholz

We had heard that Lonnie Smith, the former Cardinals and Braves outfielder whose frenetic baserunning was almost as breathtaking as watching him try to play defense (Bill James once pointed out that Smith "really does fall down almost every game), had battled some drug problems back in the late '80s, but we had no idea it ever got this bad. Smith apparently planned on murdering current Braves general manager John Schuerholz because he thought he had sabotaged his career.

"If I couldn't get back to baseball," Smith says, "I was going to take him with me. I was going to fly out there, wait for him in the parking lot of the stadium and pop him. If I got caught, I got caught. If not, I'd come on back home." Smith pauses and extends his right hand to emphasize his point; his thumb and forefinger are extended to symbolize a gun.

"If I did, you know, the thing, at least I took somebody out who was at blame," he says.

It's a compelling story, except for one little detail that might betray author Kent Babb's experience with, uh, illicit substances. When Smith realizes that he is being blackballed from baseball and blames Scheurholz, Babb writes that "Smith bought a dime bag of marijuana and decided Schuerholz's crime was a capital offense."

Yeah. Because nothing makes you frenzied, manic and violent enough to go shoot a man more than a bag of marijuana. We are surprised that Babb didn't mention that Smith was "seeing visions of dragons that looked like Schuerholz" or that the marijuana "sent Smith into a downward spiral of all-night rave parties."

Battle Scars [The State]