Gardner, Smoak and Wieters to be inducted in Charleston Baseball Hall of Fame

The Charleston Baseball Hall of Fame released their 2021 candidates on Wednesday
The Charleston Baseball Hall of Fame released their 2021 candidates on Wednesday(Charleston RiverDogs)
Published: Aug. 1, 2023 at 3:10 PM EDT
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Charleston, SC - The Charleston Baseball Hall of Fame’s advisory committee has released its inductees for the Class of 2023, with the enshrinement to be conducted on Tuesday, August 29 before the Charleston RiverDogs 7:05 p.m. game against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park. In an exceptionally prominent class, this year’s inductees are three recent MLB players from the Lowcountry community: Brett Gardner, Justin Smoak, and Matt Wieters. The trio will sign autographs for fans at the ballpark before the enshrinement.

Brett Gardner attended Holly Hill Academy in his prep days. He also played American Legion baseball for St. George Post 105. Gardner became a three-year starter for the College of Charleston from 2003-05. He had a .397 batting average as a junior in 2004. In 2005, he posted a .447 batting average, tied for the most hits in college baseball with 122, established a CofC record with 85 runs scored and led the Southern Conference with 38 stolen bases.

Gardner was drafted in the third round of the MLB Draft by the New York Yankees in 2005. He played for the Yankees from 2008-2021. His career highlights included: World Series champion in 2009, American League All-Star in 2015, Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner in 2016, AL stolen base leader in 2011 (49) and AL triples leader in 2013 (10). He was also a three-time Field Bible award winner in 2010, 2011 and 2017.

The outfielder played in 1,688 games during his 14-year MLB career. He had a .256 career average (1,470-5,737) with 139 homers, 578 RBI and 274 stolen bases. He also scored 943 runs, had 251 doubles and 73 triples.

Justin Smoak played baseball at Stratford High School and the University of South Carolina before becoming the 11th overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers. He played 11 MLB seasons (2010-20) with the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants. He also played parts of the 2021 season for the Yomiuri Giants in the Nippon Professional Baseball league.

In total, he played in 1,286 MLB games and finished with a .229 career batting average with 196 home runs, 570 RBI and 552 walks. Smoak earned an All-Star nod in 2017 and was fifth in the American League that season with 38 long balls.

Smoak was named a High School All-American by the ABCA, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball in 2005. He was initially drafted in the 16th round by the Oakland A’s in 2005 but decided to honor his commitment to South Carolina. In Columbia, he finished with a school-record 62 career home runs and also left as USC’s career leader in RBI, walks and total bases. Smoak was inducted into the USC Hall of Fame in 2016.

Matt Wieters also played baseball at Stratford High School, where he was an All-American, All-State and All-Region selection in 2004. He went on to become a three-year starter at Georgia Tech and is one of just three players in Georgia Tech history to earn first-team All-America honors multiple times. The catcher was named a first-team All-America by and first-team All-ACC in 2007, first-team All-America by Baseball America and second-team All-ACC in 2006, and the ACC Rookie of the Year, Freshman All-America and first-team All-ACC in 2005. Wieters served as Tech’s primary closer for his first two years and as one of two closers his junior season (16 career saves). He finished his Yellow Jackets career with a .359 career batting average, 35 home runs and 253 hits. He was enshrined into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

Wieters was the fifth overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2007 MLB Draft. He played 12 MLB seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals. He made his MLB debut in 2009 for the Orioles and played through the 2016 season in Baltimore before becoming a free agent. He played in 1,167 MLB games with 146 home runs and 550 RBI. Wieters was a four-time MLB All-Star (’11, ‘12, ‘14, ‘16) and a two-time Gold Glove award winner (’11, ‘12).

The Charleston Baseball Hall of Fame is coordinated and operated by the Charleston RiverDogs. An advisory committee consisting of knowledgeable local volunteers was created to come up with the names as potential nominees. The Hall of Fame is located inside Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.