Mon | Jan 22, 2018

Footprints | Freddie Smith - An example to all journalists

Published:Tuesday | December 20, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The following is an excerpt from a tribute to Freddie Smith from veteran journalist Ben Brodie.

Freddie Smith (July 23, 1938 - November 27, 2016) was one of those one-of-a-kind human beings. When I joined the staff at The Gleaner sports desk in 1963, he had already established himself as a cricket specialist under the wings of the great Jack Anderson. After all, he had played sunlight cricket for Beckford and Smith (St Jago) and came to The Gleaner fresh from his high-school cricketing exploits.

Not only did he bring his personal knowledge of the game to The Gleaner, but also Freddie was a perfect example of what it meant to cover a beat. Freddie was not a desk reporter depending on press releases and press conferences. As the late Terry Smith would say, he worked in the trenches among the people. That is where the news was and still is. The result was that he would, on a daily basis, visit the popular cricketing clubs Lucas, Kensington, Boys' Town, St. Catherine, Melbourne, Kingston. Players past and present would gather for practice or just to socialise.

He would also visit the popular watering holes like Sportsman Inn, Cutty's Trade Winds and Moby Dick, for there, too, one could find cricket administrators and former players like J.K. Holt and discuss the latest development in the game. This interaction would result in his many scoops and other graphic pieces. But being a cricket expert did not preclude work in other areas of sports. As a sports reporter at The Gleaner then, you would be called on to cover any sport from skeet shooting and squash, to boxing and athletics. You had to be an all-rounder, and as the late Raymond Sharpe liked to say, "If you are a good sports reporter, you can cover anything."

Freddie covered just about all sports, and I had the privilege of experiencing his diversity and professionalism when I worked with him covering the Commonwealth Games at the National Stadium in 1966. It was hard, hard work.

Appreciation for the quality of his contribution to the profession came from the Press Association of Jamaica in 2003 when he was one of the three veterans honoured at the Veteran's Luncheon. At that luncheon, he was described by then president, Desmond Richards, as a "warrior in journalism who set the pace for many of us".

Condolences to his family, especially his sister, Gloria, and to his many friends. May his soul rest in peace.