Doug Smith was a dear mentor of ours who passed away some years ago. He is survived by his wife Polly and son Joseph, among other members. He was a fantastic sports commentator, talented actor and great writer who loved to write about sports, especially baseball. He lived on Grand Island for nearly 50 years and gained much recognition locally as a celebrity author and personality. Both of us were fortunate to know him and learn from his wisdom.
A few months ago, Doug’s son Joseph reached out to us through Facebook and informed us of a new book that he wrote to honor his late father, which was a collection of Doug’s writings. Polly wanted to gift us a copy and we were honored. Joseph also sent over the following kind words and descriptions to us, which we wanted to share in their entirety:
Doug lived on Grand Island for almost exactly 50 years, in three different homes — the first on Alt Boulevard and the other two on Hennepin near the South Bridge.
He loved Grand Island — its people, its sports, its culture and its unique geography. He loved the Island Ship Center as a place where folks from all different walks of life could come together on common ground; this was almost his favorite thing on earth … except for baseball!
Doug covered sports in Erie, PA, before settling in WNY in 1966, where he wrote for the now-defunct Courier-Express, the Niagara Gazette, the Island Dispatch, the Rocket, the Tonawanda News and the Buffalo News, also enjoying 10 years as feature correspondent for WIVB-TV after the Courier folded in 1982. Much of this writing is in the book I just edited, The Best of Doug Smith — including later years when he was able to re-indulge his lifelong baseball passion in a regular column called Base Paths, covering plenty of Grand Island sports, along with the Bisons and the Niagara Power. During those years, Doug also had a regular column in the Gazette called “Letters from the Island,” reporting local events to so-called “mainlanders.”
Thanks to a huge cache of computer files, I was able to include a generous portion of “Base Paths” and “Letters” in the book, along with pieces on travel, film, books, theater and family, plus a selection of his Cheap Gourmet columns on affordable local dining.
Going through Doug’s clippings for the once-mighty Courier, I also found interviews with Cary Grant, Johnny Cash, Bob Hope, George Burns, Rock Hudson and Jack Nicholson, among many others. And I happened to be in possession of two manuscripts for an unpublished piece recounting the 13-day car trip he and his wife, Polly, took over the entire 2300-mile length of Route 62 … from Niagara Falls to El Paso.
I think it’s safe to say that in his long career Doug had hundreds of thousands of fans, viewers and readers on the Niagara Frontier, not to mention many friends made and kept because he was such an inveterate “people person.” It’s also safe to say that almost any of these folks would enjoy this book. It sure was a trip down memory lane for me!
Copies are available at Amazon (you might need to include my name in the search, Joseph W. Smith III); if you want one signed by the editor, just email JOE at [email protected].
With gratitude, respect and kindness,
Fahim & Seema Mojawalla, Owners
Island Ship Center
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