Kam Smith, a junior at Northern Illinois University, is headed to Northern Michigan this summer to play for the Traverse City Pit Spitters.
As a baseball fan and former Battle Creek Bomber staffer, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kam earlier this spring as he prepares for a summer Up North. Between “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am” I was treated to Southern hospitality and the best pre-game ritual I’ve ever heard. Let’s play ball!
Player Profile: Kam Smith
Hometown: Colonial Beach, Virginia (840 miles south of Traverse City)
Grade: Junior at Northern Illinois University
Position: Utility Player (infield and outfield)
So Kam, what position do you play?
I’m a utility player, which means I can play outfield or infield, and I’ve started catching more. To be honest, I just go out there and play wherever they need me.
When did you start playing baseball?
Age 3 because my dad was a coach in high school. I followed in my grandfather’s, dad’s and uncle’s footsteps. Baseball has been in our family for a long time.
What’s your favorite baseball memory?
I have two: The first was being at home watching Derek Jeter run across the field, cut a ball off and redirect it to home plate. And then watching him dive into the stands. My second favorite memory is wearing my dad’s number in college.
Have you ever played in a collegiate baseball league before?
Yes, ma’am. I played in both the Cal Ripken League and the Prospect League. I’m no stranger to going new places!
What’s your pre-game ritual?
It starts with sleeping in my uniform. Then I dance to some music and “do my makeup,” which is putting my eye black on. Finally, I text my mom and dad and tell them I love them. But if they are at the game, I hug and kiss them. I say a little prayer and I’m ready to play!
What’s your favorite baseball snack?
Oh, if I’m watching a game, it would be fries. But if I’m playing, it’s got to be sunflower seeds.
Who is your favorite baseball player?
David Wright, and my new favorite is Justin Turner who plays for the Dodgers.
What would your walkout song be?
“Small Town Boy” by Dustin Lynch
Do you know all the words to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game?”
I think I do actually! I’ve probably heard it well over 1,000 times.
What’s your favorite baseball movie?
Either The Sandlot or The Benchwarmers.
Have you ever been to Michigan?
Only once. My brother plays football at the University of Michigan and I went to a game against Penn State. All I remember was that it was really cold.
A throwback shot of this certified cutie.
What have you heard about Northern Michigan?
People say it’s a great vacation spot and it’s near water, which is good because I grew up on the beach.
Traverse City is the cherry capital of the world… What is your state known for?
Hmmm… They grow berries in Virginia, but honestly, Virginia is for Lovers, that’s what I tell people. (He laughs.)
Players stay with host families for the season. Have you met yours yet?
Not yet, but I hope I will soon. I’ve stayed with host families since high school and they are always like family to me. One of the families I stayed with still sends me a birthday card and I see them on the holidays in Virginia. They are so much more than a host family to me.
How far do you think you can spit a cherry pit?
Oh man. If I stood at home plate, I think I can get it right at the cutout. But I’ve never tried, so this summer I’ll have to.
We’ll hold you to that, Kam. Good luck this season!