Former Amherst Comets coach Norris Smith to be inducted into NEOBCA Hall of Fame

Norris Smith never thought it would happen to him.

Being inducted into the Northeast Ohio Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame was something he never thought about.

So when the former Amherst coach found out he made the NEOBCA Hall of Fame Class of 2013, he was shocked.

What’s shocking are numbers he put up as coach of the Comets from 1968-92.

During those years Smith compiled a 292-227-2 record — good for a .560 winning percentage.

He won eight conference championships — five Lakeland Conference Championships in ’70, ’74, ’77, ’80, ’83 — and three Southwestern Conference Championships in ’88, ’89 and ’92.

Smith, who also taught Biology, led Amherst to six sectional championships and its first-ever District Championship in 1983.

“It brings up a lot of fond memories of my time coaching at Amherst,” Smith said of his HOF selection. “There were a lot of good people there, a lot of good players and fellow coaches. It was very pleasant indeed.”

Although there are many, Smith said getting to the district championship game and winning it was one of his highlights as a coach.

Current Comets coach Al McConihe nominated Smith a couple times through the Greater Cleveland Baseball Coaches Association with Brian Sliwinski of Benedictine and Ben Boka of University School.

McConihe struck up a relationship with Smith about five years ago at an alumni golf outing, and from that point forward McConihe said he felt compelled to give Smith recognition for his accomplishments as a coach.

“I was really excited,” McConihe said when he found out Smith was going to be inducted. “It does the program proud and is something that I know our baseball community is going to be excited about. He really put in the time and laid the ground work for a good high school baseball program.”

The GCBCA will have a ceremony between NEOBCA All-Star game games at Progressive Field the week of Monday, June 24, where Smith will be recognized along with Steve Barona (Beachwood), Dave Clegg (Ravenna SE), Jeff Dallas (Revere), Steve Grescovich (Walsh Jesuit), the late Jerry Gruss (Lakewood), George Snider (Aurora), Len Taylor (Mentor), and Tim Tomc (Parma).

Smith is looking forward to the induction ceremony.

“I’m looking forward to seeing some people I haven’t seen in a while,” Smith said. “I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think about the teams that I coached at Amherst, the kids that I coached, my assistant coaches and the other teachers there. It was a very, very positive experience.”

After retiring from teaching at Amherst, Smith went to work at Cedarville College (Now Cedarville University) in Cedarville, Ohio, for 16 years.

Smith currently resides in Cedarville, which is just outside of Dayton and about three hours away from Amherst. Smith comes up every once in a while, still having some relatives living in the area and former players who get each other together for reunions.

Smith said he doesn’t get to too many baseball games, but has always maintained an interest in Amherst.

“It’s always fun to go back and see the old gang,” Smith said. “It’s almost like you’ve never left. We do get back up to the Amherst area once or twice or three times a year.”

“I was very, very happy with my career at Amherst. It was a good place to teach, good place to coach.”


Last Updated: 12/27/2012 11:11:30 PM EST

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