A FAMILY OF ATHLETES

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Clay and Mickey Mantle
Clay Smith 1975
Clay Smith 1978 NW Classen HS

REMEMBERING WHEN: A FAMILY OF ATHLETES
Smith family remembers days of lettering, playing

By Heide Brandes

Every now and again, a family thrives through the sweat, defeat and victory of sports. In Oklahoma City, one family did just that, producing not only 26 “letters” in four boys, but a professional athlete as well.

The 1940s, 1950s and 1960s were glory days of high school sports, and Carl Smith, the oldest of four boys in the Oklahoma City Smith family set the bar for his brothers to follow. Born in 1946, Carl attended Classen High School.

His three younger siblings – Charlie, Skip and Clay – soon followed, and the boys were a coach’s dream.

“I lettered nine times in high school,” said Carl, remembering the days of football, basketball and baseball at Classen. “My mom was an athlete, and we got motivated at the Gray YMCA while growing up. I guess since I’m the oldest and I played sports, my brothers followed.”

Charlie was the next high school athlete star. He lettered nine times in football, basketball and baseball. Skip followed with 8 letters in the same sports, and then Clay lettered three times in baseball at Northwest Classen High School. All of the brothers played quarterback, short-stop and guard.

Clay went on to make All-State when his team won the state championships in baseball in 1977,following his brothers. Carl as a star in conference play for both basketball and baseball and Charlie made the All-State team in 1967 in basketball, leading with 53 whopping points.

Sports ran in the Smith family. One of Carl’s uncles was a professional baseball player for The New York Yankees in the 1940s and 1950s, he said, and that claim to fame helped motivate the boys to match. Clay, the youngest, excelled in baseball primarily, and when he graduated in 1978, he was the first pick in the second round for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“He played for the Dodgers for four years. He was the only one of us to go professional,” Carl said.

Still, sports ran in the family blood. All four brothers continued to compete in softball, playing even more national championships as adults.

“Each one of us played. I coached Clay in basketball and I coached my son in baseball,” said Carl. “I guess it’s because my mother and uncle were such athletes.”

For one family, the glory days of high school may be a memory of the past, but the awards and glory still exist.

“Our whole family played. We just really enjoyed playing sports,” he said.

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