By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Bridgewater State University baseball coach Rick Smith, who is wrapping up a 25-year career, will take a trip down memory lane this weekend.
Smith is scheduled to be honored by the university on Saturday afternoon, and a number of his former players are scheduled to be on hand for the ceremony at Alumni Park.
The Raynham resident announced before the season that he will retire this year after guiding the Bears since 1994.
A ceremony will take place between games of a doubleheader between Bridgewater State and Framingham State University with the opener starting at noon. Smith will have the opportunity after the twinbill to visit with his ex-players and reminisce about the long run he's had in the dugout.
"It's going to be emotional,″ said Smith. "From what I hear, a lot of people from the past teams are going to be there and it's going to be nice. It'll be exciting.
"To see players like the Kevin O'Learys, the Jimmy Martoranas, all the players, the teams, the captains that we've had through the years, there are going to be a lot of memories. I've been doing it for a long time.″
Smith, a 1972 graduate of Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High who was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, has a 549-369-5 record at BSU and is the school's winningest coach in any sport.
The Bears went to the NCAA Division 3 tournament 10 times under Smith and advanced to the College World Series in 1996 (winning a school-record 31 games) and 1997. BSU has won the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title 10 times and the tournament title five times, and Smith has been the conference coach of the year three times.
"Hopefully along the way I've impacted some lives,″ said Smith.
BSU is struggling in Smith's final season with a 4-15 record, including 0-6 in the MASCAC. The Bears have dropped nine straight games.
Because of the inclement weather, BSU has played just three games at home – on April 5 against Johnson & Wales and a twinbill against Worcester State on April 7.
"It's been tough,″ said Smith. "We've had three home games and only two practices on our own field since we got back from Florida (in early March). We're good at getting a tarp on and off the field.″
BSU will be going against a Framingham State team that includes leadoff hitter Aaron Williams of Brockton.
Williams leads the MASCAC with a .438 batting averaging, 42 hits and 21 stolen bases in 23 attempts.