Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Smith brothers go from gridiron to diamond at Armwood

In a game against Newsome High early in the season, an Armwood player was hit in the midsection by a fastball. No big deal, right? The Armwood player never made a threatening move toward the pitcher, but his glare said it all.

"(Newsome's coach) got up and yelled, 'Whoa, big fella, take it easy,' " Armwood coach Mike Wrenn said.

When you're arguably one of Hillsborough County's hardest hitting players ever — in football, that is — that type of response is warranted.

Petey Smith sauntered unremarkably to first base, but his presence on the baseball team, along with older brother Eric, is anything but usual. Area fans know Armwood's Smith brothers for their contributions to the Hawks' football program, but now they have another sport to conquer.

"I'd heard that they could play (baseball)," Wrenn said. "But for them to come out (for the team) was somewhat of a surprise."

That's because neither of the Smiths had set foot on a baseball field during their high school careers.

Eric, a running back who has signed with Auburn, was one of the most sought-after senior prospects in the country this season. Petey, a junior who hasn't chosen a college yet, forged his name on county football fields as

a linebacker.

So why did the Smith brothers try baseball now?

"We always played every sport when we were kids whether it was basketball, baseball … whatever," Eric said. "With this being my last year, I talked with Petey and we decided together to stay busy by playing baseball (during the spring)."

While it's not all that uncommon for star high school athletes to play more than one sport, it's somewhat unusual for two of the best football players in the county to pick up a sport they haven't played since, well …

"We last played ball when I was like 15 and Petey was 14," Eric said. "It's been a minute."

Wrenn had been putting the bug in the Smith brothers' ears since the beginning of the school year. Any time he saw them in the hall or around the athletic complex, Wrenn dropped a hint.

"I'd heard they wanted to concentrate on football (last year) but that they were more interested this season," Wrenn said.

Armwood players, knowing the brothers' reputation from Little League, had been trying to get them to play for years. Due to what was described as "differences" with Armwood's former coach, the Smiths didn't bite. When Wrenn took over before last season, their attitude began to shift.

"I'd played AAU with some guys I kept seeing in the paper and I knew I could run with them," Petey said. "I brushed it off when they asked me before this year, but we heard good things about coach Wrenn, so my mom said to give it a try."

So far, so good.

Eric has found a home in left field while Petey has settled in as the Hawks' designated hitter. Intangibles, Wrenn said, are the brothers strong suit.

"They both have such a great feel for the game," Wrenn said. "Their instincts are second to none and even though they haven't played (baseball) in awhile, their instinct and athletic ability make up for it."

Petey displayed that and more in the season opener, cracking a grand slam against Tampa Bay Tech. Eric has played well for the 3-1 Hawks, who host Brandon at 7 tonight. And should a game of football break out?

"Oh, God, we'd be in good shape," Wrenn chuckled. "If that happens, there's no team in the county that will beat us."

Smith brothers go from gridiron to diamond at Armwood 02/28/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Two boys in critical condition after Largo crash


    LARGO — A 7-year-old boy was thrown from a car in a head-on crash on Starkey Road, and both he and a 6-year-old boy were in critical condition Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  2. Trump's new order bars almost all travel from seven countries


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House in Washington.
  3. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  4. In Mexico City, hopes of finding quake survivors dwindle


    MEXICO CITY — Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.

    Rescue workers search for survivors inside a felled office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City on Saturday.
  5. GOP health bill in major peril as resistance hardens among key senators


    WASHINGTON — The floundering Republican attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act met hardening resistance from key GOP senators Sunday that left it on the verge of collapse even as advocates vowed to keep pushing for a vote this week.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate, said Sunday that it was “very difficult” to envision voting for this health-care bill.