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Larry Smith
The Centralia Sports Hall of Fame
2005 Individual Award Winner


 

In 1966, when Centralia Junior College became Kaskaskia College, Larry Smith was named Head Baseball Coach, Assistant Basketball Coach (until 1972) and Physical Education and First Aid Instructor.  He came to KC from his native Cerro Gordo, Illinois having coached at the high school there the previous three years.

Nearly 1,900 baseball games later, Smith gave up the coaching reins after the 2002 season. He became only the fourth Junior College coach in Illinois to surpass 800 victories. In doing so, he gained the respect and admiration of all who came in contact with him as a coach and teacher.

Smith’s KC teams garnered seven conference championships (SICC-1968, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1981, GRAC-1988). In 1988, he was named Conference Coach of the Year as the team was 25-7.

In NJCAA play, his teams captured six sectional titles, and were sectional runner-up 17 times. At the Regional level (state tourney), his teams placed fourth in 1989, third in 1985 and 1994, and took the Region 24 title in 1991. The team was runner-up at the Great Lakes District Tourney in 1991 as they were two wins away from an appearance in the NJCAA national tournament.

Twelve of his players were signed by major league organizations, and three made it to the big leagues. Smith developed a copyrighted baseball scorebook in 1968. Over the years, he has conducted countless baseball camps for younger players and spoken at numerous clinics and banquets.

He served as Chairman of the Illinois Junior College Baseball Committee in 1982, 1983 and 1991 and 1994. He has been a member of the Region 24 Baseball Committee since 1982. Smith had the honor of begin named to coach the South Jr. College All-Stars in 1982 (Wrigley Field), and in 1994, and was Assistant Coach for this game in 1979, 1981, 1983, and 1984. 

He was chosen to coach the North team in the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival in Houston, Texas and took the bronze medal.

Smith was the driving force behind building a state-of-the-art baseball facility for Kaskaskia College. He spent untold hours along with many volunteers in getting the facility built entirely without school funds. Recognized as one of the finest college baseball facilities, the complex was named Larry Smith Field in 1999.

1997 could be called a RED LETTER year for Smith as he retired from his teaching duties at KC and was inducted into the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches’ Hall of Fame, the Kaskaskia College Athletic Hall of Fame, and the Cerro Gordo Hall of Fame. In 2003, his KC baseball jersey #3 was retired.

One opposing coach had this to say about Smith: “There is a right way and a wrong way to do things. Larry always did them the right way.” Through all of his years of coaching, teaching, wins, and losses, the one thing Smith is most proud of is what his players and students achieved later in life.

In 2009 Smith was inducted into the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.


 

 

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