Once in town, Doug Smith became a huge fan of local sports, especially baseball and SUNY Cortland athletics, and was the public address announcer for the Red Dragon men’s and women’s basketball teams.
More than all that, though, he was, to those who knew him, a nice guy.
Smith, 81, passed away at home Thursday after a short illness.
“Although we only had the opportunity to know and work with him a short time, we were fortunate enough to get a glimpse of how special Doug truly was,” SUNY Cortland athletic director Mike Urtz said. “He was as kind and gentle as they come, and as witty, I might add. He was an absolute pleasure to be around and a joy to listen to — a truly special man who will be sorely missed by Cortland athletics.”
Jaclyn Lawrence, the school’s assistant athletic director, said that “I worked closely with Doug this year. All I can say is that I always looked forward to seeing him walk into the gymnasium. He was always in high spirits and made everyone around him at ease with his sense of humor and stories.
“I have never heard a better announcer at any level of sport. He was engaging, entertaining, and truly added to the value of the game. He knew his stuff, knew when to say what, and was a blast to listen to.”
According to his obituary in The Buffalo News, Smith was a Buffalo newspaper editor, sportswriter, humorist and TV personality who started his newspaper career as a teenager, writing sports stories for two papers in Jamestown.
After stints in Maryland and Pennsylvania, he and his family moved to Grand Island in 1967. He spent time as an editor at both of Buffalo’s newspapers at the time, the The Evening News and the Courier-
After the latter closed he began a freelance career that included stints as a restaurant reviewer, a regular on WIVB newscasts and a writer for the North Buffalo Rocket and the Niagara Gazette, where he wrote a weekly baseball column.
It was also noted in his obituary that Smith was a standout softball pitcher and a public address announcer for baseball games at Sal Maglie Field in Niagara Falls. He was inducted into the Western New York Baseball Hall of Fame last September.
Smith and his wife Polly moved to Cortland to be closer to their daughter, Holly Smith Jaquith, a little over a year ago and he quickly became a fixture at local sporting events, especially baseball games. He was, however, best known as the PA voice of the Red Dragon basketball teams.
“Doug was a welcome addition to SUNY Cortland athletics due to the fact that he brought an enormous amount of energy and passion to his work,” men’s basketball coach Tom Spanbauer said. “His enthusiastic personality was contagious, and he was loved by all people he was around.”
SUNY Cortland SID Fran Elia worked closely with Smith and said that “I had the honor of meeting Doug a year ago when he moved to Cortland and enjoyed getting to know him. He had an incredible career, and more importantly was an incredible and caring person. I’m going to miss his presence and insight.”
Elia also mentioned that Smith was looking to write a story about the Red Dragon baseball team’s weather-plagued Spring Break trip and had begun the project, which was put on hold due to his illness.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Smith is survived by his son Joe, his brother Robert and four grandchildren.