Monday, April 27, 2009

Seeing Red (Smith)

Throughout the past century, it hasn't exactly been hard to find someone who is a fan of both the Milwaukee Brewers and the Green Bay Packers. It is considerably harder to find someone who wore the uniforms of both clubs. Richard Paul "Red" Smith was one of those men.

A native of the village of Brokaw in Northern Wisconsin, Smith went to Notre Dame, where he played football for Curly Lambeau's old coach Knute Rockne and captained the varsity baseball team.

After graduation, he signed with the New York Giants baseball club, playing in their minor league system. He got one game with the big club, in which he recorded a putout in the field but didn't get an official at-bat, before being sent back down to the minors.

After his stint with the Giants, Smith played five games for the Packers in 1927. He then took the field for the New York Football Giants in the first game of 1928 before being traded to the New York Football Yankees for the remainder of the season. He would continue to bouce around the NFL - in 1929 he suited up for another five games with the Big Blues from Green Bay, 1930 saw him with the Newark Tornadoes, and in 1931 he returned to the Giants, this time to play a full season. His playing days over, he coached football at Georgetown, Seton Hall and Wisconsin before returning to Green Bay as an assitant coach under Lambeau from 1935-43. He's seen here with Lambeau and Don Hutson:

Smith managed to keep one foot in the baseball world, coaching in the Brewers' farm system (yes, some of the larger independent minor league clubs had their own farm teams). He's seen here (center) in a Milwaukee Journal Brewers team photo from 1936, when he was coaching Milwaukee's affiliate in Fieldale, Virginia. Click for entire team photo:

Smith coached the Milwaukee Brewers themselves in 1939, 1940 1943 and 1944 before moving up to the Cubs with manager Charlie Grimm. Here he is (seated, center) with Grimm and owner Bill Veeck:

Okay, I have no idea what Red's doing here - what's with the outhouse structure at Borchert?

Smith returned to the Brewers with Charlie Grimm in 1951, serving as the team's business manager, and when Grimm was called up to lead the Braves managed the Brewers himself for part of the 1952 season. When the Braves moved west the following year, bumping the Brewers to Toledo, Smith went with them. He retired from baseball in 1955 and returned to his home in Wisconsin.

Smith died in 1978, but his name lives on in the annual Red Smith Sports Award Banquet, founded in 1965. It raises money for Wisconsin youth sports programs and scholarships.

1 comment:

  1. I think that's from one of Bill Veeck's morning games during the war years for shift workers - he wrote about Red Smith sleeping on a cot in the infield as the fans arrived, then "waking up" to the alarm and heading for an "outhouse." But this is just a guess...