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Springfield dedicates baseball diamonds in honor of Ernie Smith

Date: 5/29/2012

May 28, 2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD — The dedication of the baseball diamonds at Blunt Park honoring the late Ernie Smith completed a promise Mayor Domenic Sarno made to his family when the long-time park commissioner died several years ago.

The Smith family gathered on May 24, along with elected officials, the Parks Commission and dozens of people who were mentored by Smith as youths, for the unveiling of a sign noting the new name of the diamonds.

Sarno said, "Ernie was a very active Park Commissioner and very active in youth sports. I felt it was important that the city recognize Ernie's contributions to this city and proud the park commission chose this field to be named in his honor."

He added, "He epitomized someone who was proud of the city of Springfield."

Smith served on the Board of Park Commissioners from 1991 to 2009 and Patrick Sullivan, executive director of the Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management, noted that Smith was the commissioner who led the effort to impose a fee at both Forest Park and Blunt Park, that were unpopular at the time, but proved to restore and improve both parks.

Parks Commissioner Jay Griffin said he knew Smith "in all of his capacities."

"He was first Ernie the barber, then Ernie the coach, then 'The Love Doctor' [the name of his radio show on WTCC] and then Ernie the commissioner," Griffin said.

City Councilor Bud Williams said that Smith "gave from his heart to the youth of this city."

State Rep. Benjamin Swan delivered a citation from the Massachusetts House honoring Smith.

Many of the speakers alluded to Smith's advocacy for the city's youth and the parks. Sullivan said that getting telephone calls from Smith with suggestions of improvements was common.

"We are better off due to his good work," Sullivan said.

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