The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame announced the newest members selected to its Hall of Fame, with the six-person class including Los Angeles Dodgers senior vice president of planning and development Janet Marie Smith, who is renowned for her work across MLB.
Smith is accompanied by record-setting high school baseball coach Jerry Boatner; trail-blazing and late professional golfer, Pete Brown; former NBA player Antonio McDyess; long-time Mississippi State athletic director Larry Templeton; and former NFL linebacker Patrick Willis.
The new inductees will be officially enshrined on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020 at the Jackson Convention Complex, and bring the total members of the class to 322.
Though Smith, a Mississippi State University graduate, considers her path to sports unconventional, she’s honored to be inducted, per Rowan Kavner of Dodger Insider:
“It’s just amazing,” Smith said. “Mississippi’s full of such colorful characters. In the baseball world, you had everyone from Dizzy Dean to Cool Papa Bell, so it’s just kind of a real kick for me.”
“I kind of came into sports through the back door. The way I got into baseball was that the Orioles were building this ballpark that was supposed to change downtown Baltimore, and that’s what I was really interested in and thinking about, and I thought what a wonderful way of thinking about sports which brings people together as a way of also populating the city with 3 million fans a year.”
After overseeing the Baltimore Orioles’ construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Smith additionally played key roles in the Atlanta Braves converting Olympic Stadium into Turner Field, and the preservation and expansion of Fenway Park.
Smith joined the Dodgers in August 2012, and has not only worked on Dodger Stadium, but the organization’s Campo Las Palmas player development facility in the Dominican Republic as well. While Smith has overseen various renovations at Dodger Stadium, it can be argued her most exciting project lies ahead.
Along with unveiling the 2020 MLB All-Star Game logo, the Dodgers announced plans for a stadium renovation that is estimated to cost $100 million.
“I would say that ours was inspired by looking at Dodger Stadium and trying to think of what was right for Dodger Stadium, not looking at anybody else’s ballpark and trying to mimic that, because this is so unique,” Smith explained of the forthcoming additions.
“But one of the things we found through our fan surveys and data that we did, is our fans have an average of 20 minutes to get in the gate because many of them park in a location that’s not convenient to their current entry.
“So the elevators, escalators and whole notion of a front door that everybody can enter, really should solve that. We have seen in the plazas and things we’ve done over the last few years how fans have responded favorably. We feel like doing something that’s dedicated to all 56,000 fans is the right thing for Dodger Stadium.”