VOICE OF THE BALL PARK
from The Tavistock Gazette, Wednesday, March 17, 2010
At any time during the summer Kyle Smith can be found in a ballpark in southwestern Ontario. Whether he’s umpiring, coaching or calling the play-by-play, Kyle seems to spend more time in the park than he does at home.
Going from player to umpire to coach to announcer for Ballparkradio, Kyle has supplied the play-by-play for hundreds of games over the past few years and has become a fan favourite.
Using catch phrases he learned while growing up in Hickson, Ontario, “Kyle brings an exuberance to the job that belies his age,” reads his bio on Ballpark-radio.tv. At 28 years, he is the youngest personality in the radio booth and provides a lot of energy for the entire crew. Kyle is currently going into his fifth season with the broadcasters.
Born in Woodstock, Kyle was raised on the family farm on the 14th Line of East Zorra-Tavistock. A son of Barry and Debbie Smith, the family moved into Hickson in 1989. Kyle has an older brother, Trevor, and a younger sister, Caitlin. Kyle attended Hickson Central Public School and Huron Park Secondary School in Woodstock.
In those early years he played fastball for Hickson Minor Ball teams as pitcher, catcher, and in just about every other position on the diamond. As he got older, his knees started giving him trouble, so he opted for umpiring. He remembers Dave McLaren, Gene McLaren, and Jim Harmer as his mentors at the beginning, however, “It was Darrell Ford who got me involved,” Kyle said. Kyle worked his way through the umpiring ranks and earned jobs at just about every diamond in the area officiating at tournaments and regular South Perth and Tri-County Fastball League games. During this time he also coached the Hickson Bantams to an ORSA Ontario championship title.
Kyle joined the Innerkip Umpires Association and has played his part in hosting the Annual Gord Marshall Memorial Women’s Fastball Tournament. In its seventh year, the umpires partner with the Canadian Cancer Society and have raised more than $40,000 for cancer research. Twenty-four teams from as far away as Windsor, Chepstow and Hamilton sign up for the tournament played in two divisions the weekend of July 22-25. Kyle is sure to be there wearing a different hat and working as an umpire during the event.
A student of the game of fastball, hockey and almost every other sport, Kyle acquired an interest in the work of various radio and television personalities at a young age. Following high school he enrolled in the Radio Broadcasting Program at Mohawk College. He didn’t like the idea of being a disc jockey and sitting alone in a room. He wanted to be out talking with people so play-by-play announcing peaked his interest. He graduated in 2003 with hours of experience through providing the colour commentary at Hamilton Kilty Bees Tier II Jr. A hockey games. Now called the Hamilton Red Wings, Kyle has been calling the play-by-play for the past couple of years each and every Monday night. The program can be found streaming live on the college radio station INDI 101 and online at www.indifm.ca.
With his interest in fastball, Kyle had also been a fan of Ballparkradio when he couldn’t get to the park. In 2006 he was in touch with Joe Todd of Ingersoll, another announcer with Ballparkradio, and Kyle offered them his resumÃ© and services. The following season, Ball-parkradio owner and founder Jim Flanagan contacted Kyle with some dates to call games, but with no promises. Ready to leave after his scheduled broadcasts, Jim asked Kyle to stick around for another game. “I jumped right in,” Kyle remembers. “After that, everything took care of itself.”
Kyle has travelled to Florida to broadcast AAU International Fastpitch tournaments as well as International Softball Congress (ISC) tournaments in Iowa, Wisconsin, Kitchener, and at the International Softball Federation Junior Men’s World Championships in 2008 in Whitehorse, Yukon. This year his play-by-play will be heard throughout the summer at qualifying tournaments culminating with the ISC World Tournament in Midland, Michigan in August.
At college, Kyle was involved in student government on the students’ association and served as a residence advisor where he was named Advisor of the Year.
He earned a college position on a contract basis for one year and developed a presentation for first year students.
Moving back home to Hickson, he found work at Clemmer Steelcraft in Woodstock where he worked until February of 2009. Layoffs found him searching for work and fellow Innerkip umpire Brad Hallock hired him as assistant district sales manager for Pride Seeds. Through his association with Shur-Gain and Dave Bates, Kyle then began as a dairy ruminant representative with crop sales for Yantzi’s Feed and Seed Ltd. in Tavistock. He began working from the office at the new elevator on the Sebastopol Road in November of 2009. With Yantzi’s he is currently enrolled in the Dairy Nutrition Advisor Program at Shur-Gain.
Kyle is a relatively new member of the Hickson Lions Club as well as a longtime member of the Innerkip Umpires’ Association.
While in his first year at Mohawk College, Kyle met Candice Gardner and the couple has been together since May of 2002. She graduated from the Advertising program and is currently an administrative assistant at the Mohawk College Alumni Department in Hamilton.
Ballparkradio has a number of committed broadcasters – Jim Flanagan, Blair Setford, Joe Todd, Lance Winn, and Kyle. There is also an every-growing group of people getting involved in the production, Kyle said. Kyle is looking forward to the new season with a lot of international and local tournaments on the agenda.
“All I need is a laptop, a mixing board, a headset and a reliable internet connection,” Kyle said, to get him up and running. The rest is easy. An advertising script, a player list, and the current statistics, are all he needs. With his experience and excitement for the game, you won’t want to turn the dial.