Byron Smith’s baseball career appeared to end on a high note, after he was named to both the All-Golden State Athletic Conference and GSAC Gold Glove Teams as a senior.
The recent TMU graduate wanted his career to continue, but he had already begun working a new job with no professional playing options on the table. However, that all changed this past week when Smith signed a professional contract with the Boise Hawks of the Pioneer League.
“I’m stoked to be able to continue my playing career,” Smith said. “It all came as a shock, as I was working at a very good entry-level job in a good field for the past four weeks with a desire to play but no options.”
On Thursday, Master’s Head Coach Monte Brooks called Smith to inform him that the Hawks were interested in signing him.
“On Thursday I got a call from Monte saying the Hawks were interested and one thing led to another,” Smith said. “I quit my job the next morning and drove 14 hours to meet the team in Utah. It is all still kind of sinking in.”
Not knowing what his future held, Smith felt that Coach Brooks prepared him for whatever lied ahead.
“Coach Brooks prepares players for whatever comes next, a job or a professional career,” Smith said. “He has excelled at it for almost three decades. He and Jorgy (Nick Jorgensen) both bring years of personal experience and know what it takes to make it. They are very honest in their observations, which is very uncommon in college baseball today.”
Smith, who provided one of the highlights of the 2021 season with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning against Bethesda on Feb. 1, batted .325 with five home runs and 31 RBIs this year. He added an on-base % of .437 and a slugging % of .485.
“It was a tremendous joy and privilege to witness Byron Smith grow in his faith in Jesus Christ and develop into an All-Conference, Gold Glove baseball player at The Master’s University,” Brooks said.
A versatile defender, Smith mostly played catcher but also spent time at first base, third base and on the mound as pitcher. He became one of 10 Mustangs in program history to earn All-GSAC and GSAC Gold Glove honors in the same season.
“He did a tremendous job of calmly managing the pitching staff and controlling the run game,” Brooks said. “He was also a productive hitter in the middle of the order. The combination of the two brought us an incredible amount of success.”
Smith is the second 2021 Master’s Baseball alumnus to sign a professional contract this summer, after Roy Verdejo began playing with the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers in the United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL) last month.
“I am overjoyed for his opportunity to play professionally with the Boise Hawks, whose manager and coaching staff are committed to developing players,” Brooks said of Smith’s chance to continue his career. “To God be the glory!”