Remembering Randy Smith

By Richard Kent
Updated: April 19, 2008

CONNECTICUT — Not many of you know him. This is a world wide website and Connecticut is not the center of the universe. Manchester, Connecticut is clearly also not the center of the universe.

But I had the pleasure to know Randy Smith and he serves as one of my role models as a sportswriter. Randy Smith died on Monday, much too young at 61. He did get a story in for Monday’s paper about the Masters.

It was only appropriate that Randy would be working on the last day of his life.

I practice law by day and write sports by evening and on the weekends. I have gotten to know some great sports writers along the road. Frank Deford, Alex Wolff, and Mike DiMauro all come to mind.

None were better than Randy Smith.

As sports editor of the Journal Inquirer he didn’t see black, white, green or blue. He just saw sports for what it was. A pure form of entertainment. He didn’t have a prejudiced bone in his body.

Smith covered UConn men’s and women’s basketball, horseracing and golf almost exclusively. He saw all the great ones at UConn. Diana Taurasi was one of his all-time favorites but Maya Moore was moving up the charts.

If only Randy had lived to see her exit Storrs, Connecticut as the greatest women’s basketball player who ever played the game.

I was treated by many sportswriters as an interloper. I have a day job and they are a very territorial bunch. Smith never treated me that way. He wanted to know about the business of law and helped educate me about the business of sportswriting.

I thought that I knew all there was to know about Arnold Palmer. I never recovered from his collapse in 1961 at the Masters. I started talking to Smith about it one day and found out that Smith knew an awful lot more than I did.

He was one of the few people in the business that could look directly in the face of any UConn coach and tell them exactly what he thought. And they still respected him. And they still read all of his columns.

And they were still able to quote him even if it was a week later. Scott Gray of WTIC-AM radio in Hartford just said “we just lost the best.” That is how revered Smith was among his peers.

Many young sports writers got into the business because of him. He was able to combine a knowledge of sports with politics and a world view which was far more sophisticated than most.

Jim Calhoun, the UConn men’s basketball coach isn’t exactly someone to get on the wrong side of. Smith praised him when he thought it was appropriate but also criticized him at other times.

Calhoun seemed to treat him differently. It was either an abiding friendship or Calhoun’s recognition that Smith knew what he wrote.

Smith didn’t believe in computers, email or answering machines. He still liked the typewriter. Some of you might ask what is a typewriter.

Smith was one of the last of a dying breed. I am fortunate that I had an opportunity to know him. I was fortunate that I was able to spend some time with him in Greensboro, North Carolina at the women’s Regional just last month.

Rest in peace, Randy.

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