As far as Paul Hansen is concerned, there was a big void within the Smithfield Blue Sox organization when Steve Smith passed away at the beginning of this year.
You see, the 68-year-old Smith had served in various capacities within the semi-professional baseball club for 32 years. Simply put, being involved with the Blue Sox was a huge part of the Logan native’s life.
“It was just a very empty spot for us without Steve,” said Hansen, a son of longtime Blue Sox manager Richard V. Hansen, who passed away in 2010.
Paul Hansen even referred to Smith as “a father figure,” and wanted to do something to honor a man he has cherished for so many years. The Blue Sox will do just that before they host the Gate City Grays in a Northern Utah League game Thursday night at Richard V. Hansen Baseball Park.
A ceremony celebrating Smith’s contributions to the Blue Sox will begin at 7:15 p.m. at the Richard V. Hansen statue. Rick Thorne, the team’s all-time hits leaders, will speak, as will former Smithfield manager Vic Bingham and current manager Jordan Hansen. A plaque of Smith will be presented and placed next to the statue of Hansen. The pressbox has also been named after Smith.
“He’s on the right side of dad because he was dad’s right-hand man,” Paul Hansen said.
Engraved on the plaque is the following: “From 1991 until his passing, Steve spent 32 years in service to the Smithfield Blue Sox. He won the love and respect of players, managers, and fans with his passion for the game of baseball and his service to the team. In his early years, he prepped the field, packed the equipment for each game, served on the board of directors, and was Richard’s right-hand man.
Later in his career, he shifted his focus to scorekeeping and advertising/fundraising for the team, where he was the lead fundraiser for over 25 years. If there was a baseball game of any type at the park in Smithfield and the scoreboard was on, you can bet Steve was there. Steve loved the Blue Sox and rarely missed a game home or away. He knew if he was gone, there was a chance the scoreboard would be wrong. Steve is a legend and will forever be remembered for this friendship and service to the players, fans, and Smithfield Blue Sox Baseball Organization.”
Following the remarks by Thorne, Bingham and Jordan Hansen, the festivities will shift to the diamond as Smith’s longtime friend, Lou Hoppie, and other members of the northern Utah chapter of the American Bikers Aiming Toward Education (ABATE) organization will present the American Flag at home plate on their Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Other flags, including ones with photos of Smith, will also be present.
Venicia Wilson will sing the national anthem and then there will be three ceremonial first pitches thrown out — by Thorne, Hoppie and Dale Andersen, a close friend of Smith who has been a part of the Blue Sox organization for 43 years. Mary Demille, another treasured friend of Smith’s and longtime Blue Sox supporter, will be selling souvenirs.
Even the opposing team will be involved in the commemoration as Gate City co-owner Terry Fredrickson will be handing out T-shirts with an imprinted photo/logo of Smith’s likeness to those in attendance. Additionally, Logan-based company Charlie’s Supreme Ice Cream will be donating Creamies at the celebration, plus the Smithfield Lions Club will be serving hamburgers, Lion Pups and its other fare even earlier than normal.
“It should be a pretty exciting half hour before the game starts,” Paul Hansen said.
Paul Hansen raved about the amount of preparation Smith would put into the Blue Sox’s field during his early days with the organization. The Sky View graduate was instrumental in aiding Richard V. Hansen, who managed more than 2,500 games during his 47 seasons at the Smithfield helm.
As is mentioned on his plaque, Smith excelled at garnering the support of local businesses.
“He was a PR guy for us basically ... but he was more than that,” Paul Hansen said. “He created a partnership with the businesses.”
In addition to the countless hours he spent with the Blue Sox, Smith also worked at L.D’s Cafe in Richmond for many years and he volunteered at the Richmond City Fire Department for 42 years.
“He was vital part of what they did,” Paul Hansen said of Smith’s contributions to the fire department.
Indeed, Smith endeared himself to many people in Cache Valley and will be missed by those in the Blue Sox organization, which is competing in its 126th consecutive season.
“He was a huge supporter of every player and always wanted the best for them,” Paul Hansen said.