Ex-groundskeeper beats team that drafted him

Padres' reliever gets out of jam, earns first career win

September 14th, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO -- got his start in baseball as a member of the Giants organization, so it was only fitting that his first victory would come at AT&T Park, where the Padres rallied for a 6-4 win on Tuesday night.

Of course, when you consider what Smith's first baseball job entailed, that first Major League victory should register as something of a fairytale.

The righty reliever served as a groundskeeper for the Augusta GreenJackets, the Giants' Class A affiliate, before he was given a tryout and eventually drafted by San Francisco in the 48th round in 2011.

Smith was, quite literally, a pitcher who rakes.

"It's a pretty cool story," said Padres manager Andy Green. "For him, it's something he'll never forget for the rest of his life. ... I'm sure there's about 150 text messages on his phone right now. The groundskeeper got a win today."

Indeed, he did. But it didn't come easy.

Smith entered with the Padres trailing, 4-1, in the eighth inning and promptly put the first two runners on base, via a hit-by-pitch and a walk.

"I think I threw the first nine pitches almost to the backstop," Smith said with a smile. "After that, I settled in."

Coincidentally, the first batter Smith faced was , a member of the 2009 GreenJackets team that Smith worked for.

"I used to rake the bases for him; I feel bad," said Smith, who debuted last week after being claimed off waivers from the Giants in July. "I know him pretty well, and I hit him on the first pitch."

Smith proceeded to walk , but he escaped the jam by getting a fly ball and a double play on a soft line drive. He skipped off the mound and pounded his glove.

Then, the Padres backed him up with an improbable five-run ninth, capped by 's go-ahead three-run homer.

When Smith entered the Padres' clubhouse after the game, he was greeted by what he termed "a cocktail" of water, shaving cream, bubblegum and other clubhouse staples.

Schimpf, for one, was happy to contribute to the moment.

"That was a special moment for him for sure," Schimpf said. "We're all happy for him."

Of course, Smith was quick to give credit where it was due.

"Schimpf is the one who did all the work," said Smith. "I just threw up a zero and [] did right after me. It was crazy, it was fun, and, yeah, it's everything I dreamed, I guess. But it's a team win."