If one person were to be given the title ‘The Heart and Soul of Essendon’ it would be Les (Doc) Smith.
Doc Smith joined Essendon as a player in 1926 and played with the Club until 1946. He gained interstate selection honours in 1931 and again in 1936 when he was joined in the Victorian Team by his brother Jim. The 1931 V.B.A. Annual Report stated ‘L. Smith (pitcher) – a new player to interstate baseball shows ideal temperament and undoubted ability’.
Les won the Lansdowne Medal as the best player in Victoria in 1936 and on the 11th of July, 1942, he pitched what must rank as one of the greatest games ever in the Club’s history. Playing against Northcote at the Northcote Cricket Ground, he pitched a no hitter and faced the minimum 27 batters in the nine innings game. A perfect game was spoiled by the issuing of a sixth innings base on balls, but ‘Doc’ did his best to rectify the walk by catching the runner off the base with a pick off.
In 1940 (whilst still playing) Les was appointed Chairman of the Baseball Section and held that position unopposed for 25 years. He was made a Life Member of the Essendon Club in 1956 and was made a Life Member of the Baseball Section in 1989, when the first Baseball Life Members were inducted. For 40 years the Baseball Club was a vital part of his life. For your tireless during that time, we say ‘thank you Doc – without your efforts we may never have reached this milestone’.
“Doc” was elected to the EBC Hall of Fame in 2013