Tagged Simba for his long locks, he often played hurt and always played hard. Only average defensively, Simmons wreaked havoc on pitchers. Seven times he batted above .300, six times reached 20 HR, and eight times exceeded 90 RBI. He switch-hit home runs in a game three times and established the NL career record for home runs by a switch-hitter (182). Although not a threat to steal, Simmons also had enough speed to amass 483 career doubles.
Simmons had just turned 19 when he played his first games for the Cardinals. He was groomed to succeed the extremely popular and talented Tim McCarver. After annihilating minor league pitching with power and average for three seasons, Simmons became the regular St. Louis catcher for eleven years. He went to the Brewers for 1981 after feuding with manager Whitey Herzog. Simmons helped the Brewers win the second-half AL East title in the strike-split season and hit a crucial two-run homer in Game Three of the division playoff as the Brewers staved off elimination. The following year Milwaukee went all the way to the World Series. As usual, Simmons hit for a poor average in the postseason, but he hit home runs in the first two games of the WS against his old team. His greatest clutch performance may have come in 1983, when he drove in 108 runs with only 13 HR. He closed out his career in 1986-88 as a member of the Braves' utility men's self-dubbed Bomb Squad, playing first base, catcher, and third base, and serving as a valuable pinch hitter. In October 1988, Simmons was named director of player development for St. Louis by GM Dal Maxvill, a former teammate. (FO)