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Ozzie on Mackie

Osborne Earl “Ozzie” Smith (born December 26, 1954) is a retired American professional baseball player who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002. Nicknamed “The Wizard,” Smith played shortstop for the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals in Major League Baseball, winning the National League Gold Glove Award for play at shortstop for 13 consecutive seasons. A 15-time All-Star, Smith accumulated 2,460 hits and 580 stolen bases during his career, and won the National League Silver Slugger Award as the best hitter at shortstop in 1987.

Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith was in town recently for follow-up to his December shoulder surgery and to visit his longtime friend and sports performance management specialist Mackie Shilstone. Ozzie sat down with us to talk about Mackie’s effect on his career, and perhaps more importantly, his life.

How did you and Mackie cross paths and what convinced you to bring him on?

I was introduced to Mackie through a friend of mine in St. Louis who had met Mackie and had followed the Michael Spinks move up to heavyweight.

So, when I was contemplating trying to find someone I could work with who was going to understand that I had to maintain flexibility, but still develop strength and be effective as a defensive player, Mackie seemed to be the guy.

I told Mackie I wanted to play 3 or 4 more years, and I ended up with 8 or 9 more years.

What is it about Mackie’s approach that helped you, i.e. what innovative or unique approaches does he employ?

When I first started with Mackie, it was pretty raw: You had your basic medicine ball, he had some boxes for our plyometrics, but it was pretty typical weight equipment.

It was his integrity and doing it the right way, his work ethic. The fact that he didn’t just tell you to do it. When I ran, he ran with me. He ran me into the ground is what he did. He was as committed as I was to the project.

Not to mention, his baseline of knowledge when we used amino acids and the different type of products that we were trying, doctors were asking him questions about it.

It’s not only how to keep yourself healthy now. It’s a lifestyle. It’s become a lifestyle for me.

Talk a little bit more about that. Now that you’ve stopped playing, what type of things do you still employ that Mackie taught you?

Of course getting away from all the fried foods – well, I’m not completely away from them (laughs) – but doing it in moderation. Mackie just devours it in its purest form, but he understands that not everyone’s like him, so moderation is important.

It’s learning to eat more chicken, more fish, more vegetables, how important those things are to the entire process, being able to maintain your desired weight.

And it improves the quality of life. The more fruits and vegetables you eat, you get it more from a natural source. Foods today are so enhanced with so many different products, which is part of the problem. You’ve seen the first lady working on childhood obesity. It’s an issue. Once you figure out what things to eat, it’s a lot easier to maintain a much healthier lifestyle, and Mackie helped teach me that, in addition to all the things we did for my baseball career.

Tell me about something Mackie did that made you go “Hmmm,” at first, but surprised you by its effectiveness.

I think, for all of us, the key when you’re trying to gain weight, lose weight, whatever, it’s getting quick results. We live in a society where we want instantaneous results.

With Mackie – taking the amino acids – I was able to see those results right away. I was able to look in the mirror and see myself changing. That was more inspiration to continue. Knowing at the end of the day that you were getting the results you wanted was an impetus to keep going.

When you see Mackie and his stature, you go, ‘What in the world is this guy going to teach me?’ But, having the opportunity to work with him, we had this thing where we really competed with each other, we tried to throw the medicine ball through each other. It’s that kind of competition that keeps you fired up.

Do you think your career would have been different without Mackie’s work and if so, how?

It probably would not have lasted as long. From a health standpoint, he came into my life at the right time. It’s things that I’ve been able to share with other people that have been great. That’s what he provides.

Why did you mention Mackie in your Hall-of-Fame speech?

He’s one of the people who was instrumental in the success that I had in prolonging my career. Besides that, he became and remains a very good friend of mine, and that’s really what it’s all about.

What would you say to any athlete in his early-mid 30s considering bringing Mackie on?

I’m living proof that he’s probably going to be able to prolong your career. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, then there’s no doubt in my mind he’s the guy that will be able to help you achieve what it is you’re trying to achieve.