Two years after hanging up his glove, Sooke-raised softball pitcher received a pleasantly surprising letter in the mail, inducting him into the Softball BC Hall of Fame.
Sooke’s native and former softball pitcher Rick Smith was inducted as a recognized athlete at the Softball BC Awards Banquet that took place in Richmond on October 5 as a part of the annual general meeting and convention.
“Your contribution to our sport has left a rich legacy and it is entirely appropriate that your accomplishments be rewarded and recognized,” writes Rick Benson, the Chief Operating Officer of Softball BC in the letter informing Smith of the news.
Smith was quite excited to receive the news, as he had retired from fast pitch softball two years ago.
“It’s an honour being recognized,” said Smith. “I guess people do recognize your accomplishments, and it’s nice getting nominated for it. … It’s humbling.”
Smith played the sport for over 20 years and participated in four national championships, and played on Team Canada from 2000-2007.
It’s a hectic schedule, playing on a professional level.
“After 20 years of travelling all over the place,” explained Smith, “you’re pretty much gone Thursday night or Friday morning and you get back Sunday night or Monday morning. And that starts usually in May and goes until Labour Day. The family takes a lot of sacrificing.”
It was time for Smith to close one chapter in his life and move on to the next.
“Now it’s time to give back to the kids and give back to my wife and … be around for them.” Smith is enjoying his time with his wife and three children aged 13, 10 and two. Camping and fishing with his family now fill the weekends.
Smith is not done entirely with softball though. Recently he participated in an Old-Timer’s game, where he enjoyed the stories on the bench, and “being the young guy again.”
Smith attended John Muir elementary school and played minor baseball in Sooke until he was 13 or 14, at which point he went out to Cordova Bay. His parents still live, and champion his success. Smith was inspired by his father, who was a ball player as well.
His advice for today’s youth is to stay active. “There’s so many choices now a days, iPhones and XBoxes and Playstations. When we were younger growing up, we were outside every day, running around the bush, playing in swamps, playing road hockey and playing baseball and everything.”
Parents play an influential role. “It starts with the parents for the most part,” Smith maintains. “If you’re active in sports — whether it’s softball, soccer or hockey — I think it starts with the parents.”
Reflecting on his own children, Smith anticipates it will be his 22-month-old who will most likely follow his footsteps into softball.
Still on the Island, Smith currently lives with his family in Crofton B.C.
“Softball BC is the official governing body of softball in the province of British Columbia,” states the softball.bc.ca website. “The provincial office is located in Surrey, BC at Softball City, a facility wholly owned and operated by our membership.”
Based on the information on their website, the only other Sooke residents included in the Hall of Fame include Mr. Finn Kennedy in 1993 (50 Year Club).