“I travel a different road, the kind of path that most folks don’t go. This ain’t for the faint of heart, honey I ain’t here to just play the part. I keep Tennessee here in my soul, these boots ain’t just for show.” (Country singer/songwriter Davey Smith)
Many little boys including myself and my son Davey grew up dreaming of playing for the New York Yankees. I was even hoping that Mickey Mantle would extend his career to about thirty years so we could be together on the same team. Former Yankee third baseman Graig Nettles said it best regarding his time in pinstripes with manager Billy Martin and team owner George Steinbrenner in the late 1970s, “Every kid grows up dreaming of playing for the New York Yankees or joining the circus. I was lucky; I got both.”
About 15 years ago in Louisville, Ky., a young ball player named Shawn Kelley had similar dreams. He even told his mom one day he would be in the major leagues. He even played for the Yankees in summer ball, and one of his teammates was David Trager who played college baseball at Indiana. Another teammate was Blaine Lawrence who had a little sister named Jennifer, who would go on to become an Academy Award nominated actress. Now, Shawn Kelley is a relief pitcher with the Yankees and is currently the interim closer in the bullpen, while regular closer David Robertson is on the team DL. Not bad at all for one small neighborhood.
Last November at the SCORE International fund raising banquet, Shawn Kelley who lives in Chattanooga during the off-season, was a guest of speaker Andy Pettitte. Davey met Shawn and the two struck up a quick friendship. A few weeks later, Shawn asked Davey to write a song for him to use as he walks out of the Yankee bullpen. Former reliever Mariano Rivera who retired as baseball’s greatest closer ever used “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. So Davey went to work and came up with, “These Boots Just Ain’t For Show.” In Monday night’s home opener that song played for a packed house as Kelley pitched a perfect ninth inning to save a Yankee win. It will also be a part of Davey’s new CD which will be released later this year.
No matter what a child envisions his life to become, those dreams seldom come true, at least as we plan them. I truly believe God knows what we dream. I also believe that while some dreams do come true, God also knows what is best for us, and guides us to achieve something other than what we desire as children.
Shawn Kelley has achieved his childhood dream and even though mine didn’t quite work out as I planned it, my life is even better than I ever imagined. As for my son Davey, God may still be working on his dreams, but things have turned out pretty darn good so far.
I hope to be able to go to New York this summer; to Yankee Stadium to see my beloved Yankees play. I also want to hear Davey’s song play as Shawn Kelley comes out of the bullpen to shut the door on another American League Opponent. That my friends would be a real dream come true.
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.
His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.
He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.
In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.
To contact Randy: firstname.lastname@example.org