John “Beaver” Smith

John Smith began playing organized softball in 1972 when he was eighteen and playing left field for Orr High School on Chicago’s West-side. He was having so much fun playing the game that he loved that he started playing in other leagues in 1974. He played for P&O Express for two years at Garfield Park and Columbus Park. After leaving P&O, he joined the West – Side Devils and helped them win the championships at the Saturday and Sunday Leagues. He then played for the Koreans, the Safari Tigers, and finally to California Gold. They played night ball in the highly competitive league at 75th and Jeffery and then moved on to Lou Boudreau Stadium where the South side – West-side rivalry began. In 1992 California Gold finished fourth in the ASA “A” National Tournament in Marshalltown, Iowa. That same year they finished second in the Men’s 16-inch Class A USSSA Budweiser and DeBeer Tournament in Wisconsin. In 1995 John was named to his first ASA “A” Nationals All-American Team. In 1998 the Gold won the Sunday’s Best League title at Washington Park. In 2002 John was named the Sunday’s Best Night- Life MVP and was named All First Team in the Mike Royko Chicago Park District Tournament in Grant Park. In addition to these honors, John has also been named tournament MVP in several other leagues. With his excellent ability to get on bas, John was known as “Mr. Clutch” and many pitchers feared facing him when the game was close. He was “protected” in the batting order by fellow Hall of Fame standout Steve Kirby, Clayton Jones, and Mike Lee. John and his wife, Brenda, live in Westchester, Illinois. They have a daughter, January Smith.