SAN DIEGO - Dave Smith, a former All-Star closer who holds the Houston Astros record for games pitched, is dead at 53.

Former big-leaguer Tim Flannery said Smith apparently died of a heart attack, but the official cause of death wasn't known.

"He's gone. My tears are the rain," Flannery, the San Francisco Giants' third-base coach, told the Associated Press.

Smith was an All-Star with Houston in 1986 and 1990, and had 216 saves in a 13-year career. He played with the Astros from 1980 to '90 before finishing his career with two seasons with the Chicago Cubs.

His 563 outings with the Astros are tops on the club's list, and his 199 saves rank second.

Flannery said he spent time Wednesday afternoon with members of the Smith family in northern San Diego County. Flannery and Smith worked together on the Padres' coaching staff from 1999 until Smith resigned in June 2001 to spend more time with his family. Smith missed the first month of the 2001 season to complete an alcohol rehabilitation program.

"He was the most giving, unconditionally compassionate man anyone ever came across," Flannery said. "Everybody's got Dave Smith stories. Usually it's him reaching into his pocket and pulling out $100 to give to someone selling newspapers for a quarter.

Flannery said services were pending, but added that he and other surfers plan to paddle out onto the Pacific Ocean to spread Smith's ashes across the water. "That was what he asked. That is what surfers do," Flannery said.

Survivors include his wife, Alix, his daughter, Dakota, and two grown sons from a previous marriage. *