2009-06-18 / Sports

Hilton Lee Smith Baseball Memorabilia Collection Dedication

Hilton Lee Smith Hilton Lee Smith This Friday night, June 19, 2009, at 6 p.m., the Giddings Public Library and Cultural Center will unveil the Hilton Lee Smith Baseball Memorabilia Collection, as complete a collection as can be compiled on a member of the National Baseball Negro Leagues. The event will feature the dedication of a baseball field for Smith who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001 posthumously. Smith's son, DeMorris Smith will be the master of ceremonies during the event.

The Giddings Public Library & Cultural Center is located at 276 N. Orange in Giddings. For more information on the Hilton Lee Smith Collection, contact Pamela Hutchinson at 979-542-2716.

Hilton Lee Smith was born in Giddings, Texas on February 27, 1907 and entered pro ball in his early 20's. He pitched for Prairie View A&M before joining the Aus- tin Senators in 1931. He quickly established himself as a top-flight pitcher with the best hard-breaking curve in all of the negro leagues. In 1936 Smith signed with the powerful Kansas City Monarchs moving up to play against "top-tier" competition. He has been called the best pitcher in the Negro American League.

Smith spent 12 years with the Monarchs, winning at least 20 games every season and tossing a no-hitter against the Chicago American Giants in 1937. In addition to his curve, he threw both a rising and sinking fastball and a baffling changeup. The best available records list him with a 161-32 mark in league play, plus more victories in exhibitions. From 1939 to 1942, he went 93-11 in league games. He is given credit for recognizing the talent of Jackie Robinson, who was signed by the Monarchs in 1945.

He was a formidable hitter and he sometimes occupied the "cleanup" position in the lineup. Smith retired from the game in the 1950's and became a teacher and coach. He also worked in the steel industry and as an assistant scout for the Chicago Cubs.

Hilton Lee Smith died in 1983. The people of Giddings consider Hilton Lee Smith one of their "Hometown Heroes". The public is invited to this event. With summer baseball in full swing, it will be enjoyed by fans of the sport, young and old.

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