Smith, Garry (1988)
Maine has contributed some pretty fair pitchers to the Major Leagues in recent years — Bert Roberge, Stan Thomas, Jim Beattie, and today’s Billy Swift, to name a few. But no Maine native has appeared in a regular season big league box-score, except as a pitcher, since World War II. The 1988 Maine Baseball Hall of Fame will induct the guy who probably came the closest — former Deering Ram and New York Yankee farmhand, Garry Smith.
A pre-season Columbus Clipper analysis of the early 1980’s said ‘°At the end of the 1978 season, Garry Smith was regarded as the best outfield prospect in the Yankee system after he batted .325 with Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League... He 1s an outstanding defensive outfielder and has an excellent arm.’’ So good was his arm that he occasionally pitched in the minors. Garry had been voted to the PCL All-Star team and only an untimely wrist injury prevented his joining the parent Yankees. Although he toiled three more seasons with the AAA Columbus Clippers and was once labeled by ‘“Stump’”’ Merrill, a Chipper manager and Yankee coach, ‘‘second only to Paul Blair’’ as a Yankee defensive outfielder, he never regained the heights of 1978.
Garry did it all in baseball and was the area’s best in the early ’70’s. And his teams were tops. He led his Deering teammates to two State Championships 1n 1972 and 1973, and won the Telegram League batting crown in 1973 with a lofty .500. His Caldwell Post efforts — he pitched as well as hit — were rewarded with State Championships for Lee Freeman’s teams in ’72, ’73, and ’74. Needless to say, he attracted the eye of the late Jack Butterfield, coach of the University of Maine.
Garry played one year at Orono and was an All-Yankee Conference first team selection... Then it was on to the warmer climates of Florida, where he became Southeast Player of the Year at Valencia Community College and a first-team All-American. A year at the University of South Florida followed — a season in which he was reunited with Coach Butterfield — an Garry was a Sun Belt Conference All-Star.
Garry was drafted by the Yankees in 1976 and signed by ‘‘Birdie’’ Tebbetts. Maine’s super scout, Clyde Sukeforth, envisioned a very promising career for the Maine boy and, as usual, Clyde was correct in his assessment. Garry hit .391 and was tabbed most likely to make the majors. At West Haven he made the Eastern League All-Star Team in ’77 and was promoted to Triple-A Tacoma for the big year of ’78 — one of a select few non-pitchers from the Pine Tree State to play in Triple-A.
He retired after the 1982 season and returned to Portland, where he is currently a broker with Mark Stimson Associates — and a fine golfer.