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Aug, 2021

PONY Baseball & Softball Mourns the loss of long time friend

It is with the deepest sympathies that we announce the passing of Robert E. “Ish” Smith. He was a long time friend of PONY Baseball and Softball. Mr. Smith was president of the United States Baseball Federation in 1980. Later, Smith was the president of the International Baseball Federation. He held this position for 12 years. One thing Smith is credited for was leading the way for baseball to be added to the Olympic games.

In 1957, Mr. Smith graduated from Greenville College in Greenville, IL. He started working for the Olympic Committee in 1977. Shortly after, he was elected President of the United States Baseball Federation in 1980. He quickly advanced to the presidency of the International Baseball Federation the following year. Mr. Smith held that office until 1993.

Smith helped add baseball as a demonstration sport in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and hoped it would be played for medals in 1988, which it was. Because of this, Mr. Smith was awarded the Olympic Order, the highest honor given by the International Olympic Committee.

Mr. Smith was a good friend to Lew Hays, founder of PONY Baseball and Softball. Stated in the PONY Tales & Diamond Dust written by Lew Hays and Roy Gillespie was a passage from Mr. Smith titled “The Dean of Words.”

“To the U.S.B.F. he represented stability and order. Many members of the baseball community find it more natural to get caught up in our zealous desire for immediate action or more narrow individual concerns of their particular interest group. But Dr. Hays could be counted on to see “the big picture” and think through more clearly the long range effects of Board actions,” stated Mr. Smith about Lew Hays.

Mr. Smith and Lew Hays worked along each other on the United States Baseball Federation.

"I had the honor of knowing and working with Dr. Bob Smith early in my career at PONY." stated Abraham Key, PONY President and CEO. "Bob was a great friend of PONY, and his leadership was instrumental in baseball's inclusion in the 1984 Summer Olympics. I always had a chance to visit with Bob at the American Baseball Coaches Association meetings or the College World Series in Omaha and looked forward to his continued interest in and support of PONY." 

Leo Trich, former PONY Commissioner worked really close with Mr. Smith with the development of baseball in the Olympics.

“Board members, Lew and Peg Hays modeled for U.S.B.F. members a caring quality of life which resulted in the kind of deep seated friendship which could weather times of misunderstanding and professional disagreement,” stated Mr. Smith.

Smith was chosen as the ninth President of Greenville College. He retired in 1998 and worked with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in southern Illinois.

PONY Baseball and Softball

1951 PONY Place, P.O. Box 225
Washington, Pennsylvania 15301
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