Sydney Wallace Smith was born in Gawler in 1873, and was a prominent sportsman in the 1890s.
He toured America with the first international baseball side to do so, and on May 4, 2013 will be inducted into the Australian Baseball Hall of Fame.
Not only did Smith captain his state in baseball, his son Don Smith represented South Australia in the sport, as did his grandson Colin Wirth, his great grandson William Wirth and his great, great grandson Simon Maslen – five generations.
In 1897 an Australian baseball side was selected to tour America, with Syd and Rue Ewers the South Australians picked.
The team played 26 games in America from San Francisco across to New York, winning eight games, before heading to London, where it played a game at Crystal Palace and won, but the whole venture had been a financial disaster.
While players had to find their own way home, including some working their passage, Syd remained in England, married, and did not return to Australia until 1912.
A first baseman and outfielder, Smith batted .351 on the tour, which was fourth best of the Australians.
On his return to Australia, Syd was heavily involved with sport behind the scenes, and besides umpiring ‘behind the plate’ in baseball games, grabbed the white sticks to wave goals and points in the SANFL, as well as being an on-field cricket adjudicator.
Smith’s involvement in various sports resulted in several life memberships, with his Hall of Fame induction a late but well deserved recognition.
Another of Syd’s great grandchildren, Jonathon Wirth, also toured America with an Australian side, in 2002, with the 12-and-under ‘Dingoes’ squad.
Representing Syd at the Hall of Fame ceremonies, which will be held on the Gold Coast, is his great grandson William Wirth.
TEAM: Sydney Smith (fourth from left in back row) with the 1897 Australian baseball team.
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