Paddy Smith

This article was written by Bill Nowlin

Paddy Smith (BASEBALL-REFERENCE.COM)With a good Irish name like Paddy and a commonplace surname like Smith, it turns out that this major leaguer’s father was Italian. Paddy’s father, Angelo Amato, and his brother, Dominic Amato, moved to the United States from Monte San Giacomo near Salerno, Italy. They married the Houlihan sisters from Kingston, New York, whose parents were from Ireland, in 1888.1 Whether due to impatient immigration officials or a desire better to fit in with a name that was less “foreign” in the New World, many immigrants had their last name changed when they arrived in America. Angelo Amato changed his name to Charlie Smith for such a reason when he came to America in 1881. He told the census enumerators in 1900 that he’d been born in Italy, of two Italian parents, in September 1865.

“The families (both the Amato/Smiths and the Houlihans) originally settled in Kingston, New York, where the men worked the bluestone quarries. They moved to Pelham and started Smith Brothers Construction Co., which was quite successful.”2 Charles and his wife Katie (Catherine) raised six children: Leo, Dominick, Esther, Patrick, George, and Loretta. By 1910, the family had grown to include Marguerite, Howard, William, Lucy, and Helen. The work as a building contractor must have been good; the Smith parents were able to add two servants to the household: Sarah Devine (housekeeper, private family) and Frank Monteleone (servant, odd jobs.)

It is, of course, difficult to trace the historical record of people with names such as Smith. Lawrence Patrick Smith is recorded as the legal name of our subject, and he was born in Pelham on May 16, 1894. He went to St. Catherine’s elementary school in Pelham, and high school in New Rochelle. Smith is said to have attended Fordham University in New York for two years, but, as his grandson explained, “Family members do not think that Paddy ever attended Fordham. However, he liked the prestige of saying so. He probably picked Fordham because he was a good friend of Frankie Frisch, a Hall of Famer who was a Fordham graduate.”3

“Paddy and his brothers were well-known in Pelham and the surrounding towns because of their athletic accomplishments. His brother Howie played football at Notre Dame. All of the brothers were excellent hockey players, and Paddy refereed New York Rangers’ National Hockey League games for a period of time.”4

According to available records, he played just three years in organized baseball – 1915 and 1916, and 1920. We do know that he served in the United States Navy in World War I, though perhaps not for all three intervening years.

Smith is listed as batting left and throwing right-handed, standing an even six feet tall, and weighing 195 pounds. But it’s difficult even to track baseball players named Smith. There are listed some 134 Smiths who played major-league ball, including Klondike Smith, Mayo Smith, Phenomenal Smith, and Pop-Boy Smith. There was Douglass Smith, who may or may not have been an African-American ballplayer who pitched in one game for the 1912 Boston Red Sox, 35 years before Jackie Robinson broke in with Brooklyn.5 There are two Hall of Famers – Hilton Smith and Ozzie Smith. And there is just plain old Smith, first name unknown, who played in the 1884 Union Association for the Baltimore Monumentals. The best-known catcher named Smith during Paddy’s day was Earl Smith of the New York Giants, who first made the majors in 1919 and played for 12 years, batting .303 and deservedly well-known.

Paddy Smith is said to have played for six fully professional teams – for the Lewiston Cupids and the Worcester Busters in 1915, for the New Haven Murlins and the Bridgeport Hustlers in 1916, and for the Boston Red Sox and the Pittsfield Hillies in 1920. He shows up in the occasional box score, for instance as Lewiston’s catcher in the June 23, 1915 game.6 It’s likely that a baseball scholar able to visit Lewiston or Worcester could better track down local papers that could shed a little more light on his career. He caught in 32 games with a .957 fielding percentage. At the plate, he appeared in 42 games with 117 at-bats and hit for a .154 average.

In 1916, “L. Smith” is seen playing for two more teams – Bridgeport and (after his release in June) New Haven. He hit .205 that year in 201 at-bats in 72 games. His fielding was .932 (assuming he was the Smith reported as catcher for “Bridge.-N.H.”) After the season, Lawrence Smith filed a claim of some sort against Bridgeport and his claim was upheld by the National Board.7

Smith somehow arrived in Philadelphia in time to play back-to-back games for the Boston Red Sox on July 6 and July 7, 1920. They were the only two games he played for the Red Sox, and team manager Ed Barrow. Both games were indeed in Philadelphia against the Athletics. The Red Sox were playing close to .500 ball at the time, and ensconced in fifth place. They were 23-22 before the twin doubleheaders on July 6 and 7. The Red Sox offense gave Sad Sam Jones a big 11-0 lead in the first game of the July 6 visit, and Barrow decided to give catcher Roxy Walters a little more of a breather before the second game. Smith was brought in to catch the later innings. He got to bat, once, and made an out. He made no plays, and committed no errors or passed balls. The shutout held, an 11-0 win. Boston lost the nightcap, 5-1.

The reverse situation obtained in the first game on July 7. The Red Sox were losing, 6-0, so Barrow asked Smith to pinch hit for Mike McNally in the ninth inning. That didn’t work. He made another out. The Sox were shut out twice that day, 6-0 and 1-0.

As they proved to be his only two appearances in the big leagues, Paddy Smith was left with a career batting average of .000, and he never accepted another chance to play in the majors.

Smith did travel back to Boston with the Red Sox after the back-to-back doubleheaders and had the pleasure of working out on the field at Fenway Park before he was traded to Pittsfield on July 15. Smith and infielder Harvey “Hob” Hiller were dealt to the Eastern League team for second baseman Cliff Brady. The Boston Herald reported that the Red Sox had actually purchased Brady’s contract and that Hiller and Smith were actually just being loaned to Pittsfield for the remainder of the 1920 season.8

Smith played in 66 games for the Hillies and batted a respectable .258, quite good for a catcher at the time. He hit one homer. He caught in at least 45 of those games, and is listed with a .954 fielder percentage. When the Springfield Republican ran an article on Pittsfield’s prospects for 1921, the only Smith included was “a Troy boy.”9 It is likely that work in construction may have offered a better future for Paddy Smith.

Or that he could make similar or better money playing independent baseball in the New York City area, and thus able to stay at home. The Hillies took exception to his not reporting and he was suspended from “organized baseball” by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Three years later, the Pittsfield club was still trying to get him to reimburse them for what they said was around $4,000 they were out as a result of his failure to report.10

Though his father’s company listed him as a “building contractor” at the time of the 1910 census, Paddy and two of his brothers seems to have eventually narrowed the focus of the company’s work. Bill Lee reports that three Smith brothers ran the Smith Construction Company in Pelham, a firm which “specialized in excavation work in the Eastern States.”11 Paddy was the president.

Smith married at some point before the 1920 census, and he and his wife Marie (Mulligan) had two children, Robert (born in1919) and Thomas (born in 1923). The family lived in Mamaroneck in 1930. On his Hall of Fame player questionnaire, he said he played semipro baseball as late as 1941, some 20 years with the Bushwicks of Brooklyn.12

In fact, he had an exceptional and colorful semipro career, as outlined in Paddy Smith: Dexter Park’s Eternal Firebrand. Author Thomas F. Smith notes that “In the 1920s and 1930’s, a thin line separated the major leagues from outside baseball. Major league, minor league, Negro league, and semi-professional teams regularly played against one another.”13 Major-league teams would, with some frequency, play exhibition games even during the season against semipro teams. In 1920, for instance, the year in which Paddy Smith appeared in the majors, the Boston Red Sox played six in-season exhibition games. In 1921, they played an astonishing 14 such games.

Thomas Smith writes that from 1920 through 1936, his grandfather played for the top independent semipro clubs in the New York area: Tesreau’s Bears (1920-21), Doherty Silk Sox (1922-5), and the Brooklyn Bushwicks (1926-36). In a May 30, 1921 game for the Bears, he got two base hits off Satchel Paige, stole a base, and scored the winning run in a 2-1 victory over Paige’s Lincoln Giants.14

Smith lists 34 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame with whom or against whom Paddy Smith played at one time or another. The list includes Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, John McGraw, and 31 others.

He was apparently quite an attraction, helping keep games lively with his lively banter and jockeying from behind the plate or on the bench.

Marie Mulligan Smith died in 1959, and Smith married Ruth Rossmiller in August 1964. They lived in Yonkers, New York and in Florida in the 1960s and 1970’s.

Paddy Smith died on December 2, 1990 at the New Rochelle Medical Center. He is buried in the same cemetery as Babe Ruth, Gate of Heaven Cemetery at Hawthorne, New York.



In addition to the sources noted in this biography, the author also accessed Smith’s player file and player questionnaire from the National Baseball Hall of Fame,, the Baseball Necrology, the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball,, and Thanks to Charlie Bevis for assistance with Smith’s statistical record. Thanks also to grandson Thomas F. Smith of Carbondale, Colorado who read an earlier version of this biography and supplied additional details. His book Paddy Smith: Dexter Park’s Eternal Firebrand (2016), privately printed, contains more information, largely about his semipro days and includes more than a dozen baseball photographs believed to be previously unpublished. Inquiries can be directed to



1 E-mail from grandson Thomas F. Smith on August 11, 2021.

2 Thomas Smith e-mail.

3 Thomas Smith e-mail.

4 Thomas Smith e-mail.

5 See Michael Foster’s biography of Douglass Smith on SABR’s BioProject website.

6 Boston Journal, June 24, 1915.

7 Sporting Life, November 4, 1916.

8 Boston Herald, July 16, 1920. The article provided more context for why the Red Sox were purchasing some players.

9 Springfield Republican, April 24, 1921.

10 See August 12, 1924 letter from Pittsfield Baseball Association, Inc. to Lawrence P. Smith, reproduced in full in Thomas F. Smith, Paddy Smith: Dexter Park’s Eternal Firebrand (self-published by author, 2016), 11-12).

11 Bill Lee, The Baseball Necrology (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2003), 371.

12 As reported on his Hall of Fame player questionnaire.

13 Paddy Smith: Dexter Park’s Eternal Firebrand, 14. With the Bushwicks on August 29, 1932, he faced Paige again, then with the Pittsburgh Crawfords. In a game that drew 16,000, and also featured Hall of Famers Josh Gibson, Judy Johnson, and Oscar Charleston, Smith was 3-for-4 off Paige in the Bushwicks’ 8-6 win. See “McNamara Victim When Bushwicks Get Even Break,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 29, 1932: 8. Smith drove in one of the runs in the fourth inning. See Franklin Penn, “Crawford Divides Pair with Bushwick,” Pittsburgh Courier, September 3, 1932: A5.

14 Paddy Smith: Dexter Park’s Eternal Firebrand, 14.

Full Name

Lawrence Patrick Smith


May 16, 1894 at Pelham, NY (USA)


December 2, 1990 at New Rochelle, NY (USA)

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