Coronado Resident JC Smith Combines A Law Enforcement Career With A Love Of Baseball - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

Coronado Resident JC Smith Combines A Law Enforcement Career With A Love Of Baseball

by David Axelson | Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 4:59 pm

San Diego native JC Smith looks like most guys who played sports earlier in their lives, athletic and somebody you probably wouldn’t like to square off with in a fight. A graduate of Grossmont High School, where he played football, Smith also played baseball as a youngster, completing his career at the age of 17 in the El Cajon Colt League. He followed that up with two years at Grossmont College.

But college supplied a brief interlude before he pursued what he really wanted to do. “When I turned 20, I wanted to go into law enforcement,” said Smith as he explained his career path. “I joined the San Diego Police Department at that age and turned 21 in the Academy. I was with the San Diego PD for over 25 years and I retired in 2011 as a Homicide Detective. I worked vice, narcotics and homicide. After I retired from the police department in 2011, I was hired by the Bureau of Investigation for the District Attorney’s Office.” 

While at the District Attorney’s Office, Smith has handled some tough assignments. “For six years I reviewed all the officer-involved shootings for the County of San Diego, for all of the law enforcement agencies in the county. And I got promoted from there. Now I’m in the Family Protection Division, which includes domestic violence, child molestation and family violence. Ultimately the department answers to San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan.”

While all of these serious issues spiraled around him professionally, Smith was helping raise sons Austin Smith (CHS ’15) and Trevor Smith (CHS ’17). Austin will graduate from the University of Washington in June and Trevor is taking his background as the former starting shortstop at Coronado High School to the next level, playing for the University of Redlands. JC Smith has been married to Dr. Lourdes Smith, who is the Chief of Staff of the Department of Surgery at UCSD Medical Center for two years, after the couple met through mutual friends.

Trevor Smith played on the Islanders 2016 Division III CIF Championship team and Islander Head Coach Morgan Cummins discussed his former player. “I’m just super proud of how he has persevered at Redlands. He was the team manager at Redlands last year, and he went to every 7 a.m. workout and turned himself into someone who is contributing to the team this year. Trevor got his first collegiate hit this year and I’m proud with how he stuck with it. I used to kid him, he hit .180 for us his senior year and that summer he hit .300 in a college league with wood bats. I asked him where that hitting was earlier that year.”

A very proud father, JC drives to see his son play as often as he can. Smith said, “Trevor was committed to baseball at a very young age. I used to encourage him to play other sports, but he was so in love with baseball, he only played that. At Redlands he got along really well with the coaches and the players. He is very coachable, and he stuck to the workout program religiously. He was determined from the day he got cut his freshman year to make the team this year. He got bigger, stronger and faster.”

Among the people who helped Trevor develop were the Gonzalez Brothers, Adrian (former Padre, Red Sox and Dodger super-star), Edgar and David at their Gonzalez Sports Academy. Smith said, “Edgar was a little guy who took a liking to Trevor and he gave him private hitting lessons. They became very good friends and they still are.”

Smith coached Coronado Little League Baseball for six years, from T-Ball through Majors, including a trip to the District 32 Finals one season with the Sea Dogs. He also served four years in different capacities on the Coronado Little League Board of Directors, including president for one season. Smith said of the latter experience, “That was more stressful than being a homicide detective, no doubt.”

But the bulk of our interview last week revolved about a job he held with Major League Baseball (MLB) from 2005 through just a couple of weeks ago in 2019, as a Resident Security Agent. Smith was an independent contractor working for MLB, assigned to the Padres. Through friends in baseball, Smith let it be known that if any job opportunities came up, he would be interested. Smith said, “There was an FBI undercover operation several years back that found that 80 percent or more of the sports memorabilia for sale was fraudulent. So baseball started the authentication program. I actually got a job through MLB as an authenticator working through the Padres. I would authenticate game-used items for the club and the players to protect the integrity of the game and the items used in the game. I was the primary when that program started in San Diego, and I had two guys who worked with me who were also full-time cops.”

One of Smith’s stories revolved around Padre pitching great and former All-Time Saves Leader Trevor Hoffmann. “As Trevor approached that milestone, after every save I would get with him and collect the ball from the final out, his hat, cleats, uniform, and glove. These were for Trevor, they weren’t put on the memorabilia market. I was there to help record a really cool milestone. I was sitting in the camera well next to the dugout waiting for it to happen. And I was with him afterwards by his locker. Also, the umpires were asking us to authenticate the lineup cards, the announcers wanted us to authenticate their game notes, the players wanted the hats they wore during the record-setting game to be authenticated too. It was a really cool experience.”

Smith was involved in another record chase, this one when Barry Bonds was in pursuit of Hank Aaron’s Career Home Run Mark of 755. Smith explained, “Every time Bonds went to the plate, we switched out the balls with the umpires. It was my job to mark the balls, with a number you could see like BB113 for example. And we had a second mark with invisible ink and only we knew where that mark was located. It was really cool that the ball he hit for home run 756 had my son’s initials on it in invisible ink. He couldn’t have been nicer to me when I was collecting items for him leading up to that home run. Bonds signed a ball for all of us and thanked all of us.”

Another great story involved the 2015 Major League All-Star Game in Cincinnati. Resident Security Agents work the All-Star Games and World Series as sort of a thank you from MLB for their efforts, of which Smith said, “The reward is to work 17-hour days for five days straight.” In Cincinnati Smith was assigned to Dodger and Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher Sandy Koufax for three days. The night of the All-Star game he found himself in the clubhouse during Yankee legend Derek Jeter’s last All-Star game, grabbing a bite to eat. “I sat down at the table and was watching the game. They pulled Jeter out of the lineup and he got a standing ovation. I was thinking that was cool and the next thing I know I hear spikes coming down the hallway and Jeter asks me, ‘How’s the food?’ He sat down at the table and it was just me and Jeter. Later (Detroit Tiger All-Star) Miguel Cabrera came in and I left so they could talk.”

When asked which team he followed in baseball, Smith said, “I am really more of a fan of individual players than a team. I follow good guys who I have met like Todd Frazier (Reds, Yankees and now Mets) or Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers. I am a fan of the game and I like to see people I have dealt with do well. Guys like Craig Stammen who pitched for the Padres last year and lived in Coronado. And (former Padre pitcher) Clayton Richard who was a humble, good guy. I spent a lot of time with the umpires and I liked those guys. They are kind of the cops of baseball and everybody hates them. But you can’t do it without them. I worked the World Baseball Classic, five All-Star Games and three World Series. Any time the Padres traveled out of the country to Canada or Mexico, we flew on the charter with the team to make sure things went well with customs and the different law enforcement agencies in different countries.”

As we wrapped up our two-hour story-telling session, I suggested to Smith was that he start writing down his MLB experiences for posterity for the book I could write with him. He agreed with part of that suggestion. If you can catch Smith between the rigors of his day job and before he hits I-15 North to drive to Redlands for Trevor’s games, he’s definitely the guy you want to sit and talk baseball with.