As a youngster living on Washburn Avenue in Portland, Art Smith was close to Portland Stadium and all sorts of sports.

He would hustle down to the field and shag fly balls for the Portland High baseball team, catch footballs during the fall or play catch with Portland Twilight League stars such as Merv Kilgore or Jabber Joyce.

His older brothers Jack and Dana also were athletes, and Art would always tag along. As an eighth-grader, a certain Twilight League team was missing a right fielder, so Smith filled in. It didn’t hurt that his father Charles was the catcher, Dana was the pitcher and Jack was the team’s player-manager.

With his early exposure to sports, it wasn’t surprising Smith would blaze his own trail as an outstanding three-sport athlete at Portland High and at Murray State University in Murray, Ky. He also played minor league baseball in the Giants and Phillies organizations.

While in the Army, Smith played on baseball teams with major league pitchers Art Ditmar (Yankees) and Tom Brewer (Red Sox).

“Everyone on the team was playing professional baseball at some level, or had (played),” said Smith.

Smith returned to Portland with wife Barbara to raise three children. He was a teacher at Portland High and was a guidance counselor at Deering from 1959 to 1963. He coached football at both schools.

He went to Southern Maine Technical College (now Southern Maine Community College) as dean of students and later became the school’s president.

The business world beckoned and Smith formed Art Smith and Century 21 First Choice Realty in 1971. He retired from the business in 1992.

Friends will gather to honor Smith at a testimonial dinner on Sunday, Oct. 23, at the Holiday Inn By The Bay in Portland. The social hour begins at noon.

At 82, Smith is in good health and still very active. He previously had been asked about having a testimonial for him, but declined. This time he agreed.

“I’m a little embarrassed,” said Smith. “I’ve been honored before. Those were like testimonials.”

He referred to his inductions into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

“I loved my athletic associations, but I’ve done other things,” said Smith.

He was very active in South Portland business and civic organizations when he lived there and has been a member of the city’s Lions Club for 50 years.

“Anything Art tried, he did well,” said Jack Dawson, who watched Smith play in high school and will be master of ceremonies at Smith’s testimonial.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH