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Joe Smith, meet Joe Smith

"So what did you say your last name was again?"

Though my name is one of the most common around and often draws disbelief and wisecracks, I had never crossed paths with another Joe Smith. But I had heard about an Indians reliever named Joe Smith, and because I was in Cleveland last weekend covering the Rays, I thought I'd introduce myself. Turns out we are both named Joseph Michael, both have March birthdates (him the 22nd, mine the 28th but three years earlier), and both grew up in the Midwest. He's a bit more talented at pitching (he entered Thursday with 14 straight scoreless appearances). And from sarcasm to stories, we have more in common, too.

Do you like having one of the most common names ever?

Until you showed up (laughs). It's all right, I guess. You can kind of trick people. Depending on how I say my name, they will either believe me or not. So I kind of mess with people, so that's pretty fun.

Anything you don't like about it?

In college (Wright State) I had a lot of problems trying to get apartment places to call me back, because they'd ask my name, and I'd say, "Joe Smith," and they'd say, "Right," and they wouldn't call me back.

Worst wisecrack on your name? One I've gotten is "Your parents must not have liked you."

(Laughs) "Your parents are really original, huh?" That's about it. They don't get on me too bad.

(Reporter's note: My parents declined to comment for this story.)

Have you ever met a Joe Smith before?

You're the first one. Congratulations. How about you?

You're my first, too.

Wow.

They actually had a "Joe Smith Night" at the Palace of Auburn Hills, near Detroit, when Joe Smith played for the Pistons. All the Joe Smiths who came got put in a drawing and, I think, got discounted beers.

That'd be awesome. It'd be a good promotion here (at Progressive Field).

Ever filled out a form where your name was on there as the sample?

(Laughs) Ohh, I have not. But I have tried to cash a check from a magazine that said "Joseph Smith" (for), like, 500 bucks. It was a fake, but I'd see if they went with it and signed the back. They didn't cash it.

I read where you said something like, "My name is pretty plain, and so is my nickname (Smitty), but at least my throwing motion (sidearm) is unique."

That's the one thing unique about me, I guess, something to get out of the everyday norm. I don't do a whole lot, I'm a pretty simple guy. My name kind of sums me up.

(Turns to fellow Indians reliever Chris Perez) Would you say my name sums me up, Chris?

Perez: Yes. Like, if you saw Joe Smith in a bar, you probably wouldn't remember him. Like the All-American Joe Smith.

Has any stranger taken advantage of your name by putting beers on your tab?

(Laughs) I don't think so. I'm going to have to start watching that.

The one good thing is I'm not worried about identity theft. Don't write that; then somebody will try to do it.

If you had a son, would you name him Joe Smith?

I don't think so. Maybe John (laughs).

I'll come up with something good when that day comes. Hopefully it's not for a while.

Favorite Joe Smith moment?

I got a Joe Smith-signed (NBA) jersey from when he was with the Cavs. So that was kind of neat. I wore that around. My friends thought it was pretty neat.

Do you know of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church?

I've heard of him. I am the Mormon prophet; I've accepted it. If I ever go to Utah, then I'd definitely go by Joseph as opposed to Joe. Hopefully I'll get some good followers.

Last one: I've got to ask, is Joe Smith your real name?

(Laughs) Next question.

Joe Smith — no, not that one, this one can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Joe Smith, meet Joe Smith 07/29/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 30, 2010 11:02am]
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