Longtime Royals employee Linda Smith to enter Missouri Sports HoF

Olivares impressing early in Cactus League

March 24th, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Linda Smith spent 37 of her 46 years in Major League Baseball working for the Royals. She held jobs in public relations, group sales, marketing and scouting and player development. Her time in Kanas City coincided with World Series titles in 1985 and 2015 and American League pennants in 1980 and 2014.

Now, Smith will be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame on April 20 at the annual Women’s Sports Luncheon.

“I was stunned,” said Smith on Wednesday after the official announcement. “It’s not the type of thing that usually happens to somebody in an administrative role. Stunned is the best word I can give you.

“It’s an amazing honor. Certainly something I never would have expected.”

Smith, a graduate of Missouri State, was with the Royals from 1972-92 for her first tenure. She jumped around departments, starting in public relations before moving to sales and marketing. She was in the scouting and player development department when she took a job with the Braves in 1992 as the administrative assistant of scouting. After spending the 1997 season with the Rangers as the assistant to the director of scouting, she rejoined the Braves as the administrative coordinator of baseball operations from 1998-2000.

Smith returned to Kansas City in 2001 as the manager of scouting administration. She stayed on when Royals president of baseball operations Dayton Moore took over the front office in 2006, and her title changed to manager of scouting operations, a role she held through 2017, when she retired. Smith was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the scouting department and was instrumental in the preparation and execution of the MLB Draft.

“I have been so blessed in my working life in baseball, [I] have worked with some amazing people,” Smith explained. “Starting with way back in the beginning with [former Braves GM and president] John Schuerholz when he was just getting started, [former Royals GM] Allard Baird and Dayton. I’ve been so lucky to work with so many amazing people [like] Art Stewart, who I worked with for a very long time. I considered myself extremely blessed and fortunate to work with those people. They would be the only reason this is happening just because they made learning about baseball interesting and fun. It became a passion.”

Smith was given the Special Recognition Award by the Greater Midwest Scouts Association in 2007 for for her dedication and commitment to professional baseball, especially in the realm of scouting and player development.

“Our entire organization celebrates with Linda,” Moore said in a statement. “She is an amazing person with a tireless work ethic who always goes above and beyond to make others better.”

Daily Olivares note
Edward Olivares has been a spark in almost all of the Royals' Cactus League games, and Wednesday was no different in Kansas City’s 8-4 win over the Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Olivares started in center field and homered twice, including a monster blast in the fourth inning. Justin Lawrence left a first-pitch slider over the plate, and Olivares did not miss any of it, pulling it over the left-field berm and onto the concourse. Olivares didn’t even watch where it landed; he just dropped his head and started running.

“Oh my god, it’s unbelievable,” catcher Salvador Perez said. “I don’t know what he’s eating in Venezuela. I got to eat the same thing. I feel good for him. He’s fighting for a job, doing the best he can do. Hopefully, he can stay on the team, and, if not, he’ll keep working. He’s pretty good right now.”

Olivares homered again in the sixth, this time an opposite-field shot to right-center field. He also made a few good routes in center field, which is notable as the Royals have wanted to see his defense improve. His bat certainly plays in the Majors, but the Royals have been hesitant to trust him in as big of an outfield as Kauffman Stadium.

“It comes down to the intentionality of his work,” manager Mike Matheny said. “What he’s doing in BP, what he’s doing in his extra early work. He’s getting more efficient. A lot of it has to do with taking the information -- how can we make these jumps and routes a little more efficient? He’s a smart player. He wants to learn how to be better, and he’s doing the work to get there.”

Keller’s “fantastic” debut
Right-hander Brad Keller looked excellent in his three innings Wednesday, allowing just three hits against three strikeouts and no walks. Coming off a 2021 season where he struggled with command, Keller was also efficient, throwing 36 pitches total, with 25 of those landing for strikes.

“Keller was fantastic. One of the best I’ve seen him with how consistent he was, timed up,” Matheny said. “You can almost watch how, when he broke his hands and how he landed with his front-foot contact and ball position in his hand, it was one right after the other.

“Ended up having a 12-pitch average over three innings, using everything. Still had the heavy movement. Changeup looked good. It was a very good day for Brad.”