Longtime Minnesota Twins executive Bill Smith, currently the special assistant to the president and general manager, is leaving his post with the organization.
Smith has been with the Twins for more than 30 years, serving in a variety of roles. From 2007-2011, Smith took over as the team’s general manager, becoming the immediate successor to Terry Ryan.
While he had a hand in the team’s baseball operations, Smith is leaving the Twins with a distinct track record when it comes to spring training complex development. He played a key role in the initial development of Hammond Stadium, which opened for the spring of 1991, and helped to remake the facility decades later. In a two-year project, Hammond Stadium and the adjacent complex were overhauled before the 2014 and 2015 spring training seasons, with the modernized facility including the CenturyLink Sports Complex.
As he leaves the Twins, Smith’s role in overseeing those projects is something he cherishes. More from the Naples Daily News:
“Lee County, of course, has been my baby for 26 years,” Smith said, mentioning by name three former Lee County employees who helped get that stadium built. “It was a tremendous project. That team included the great John Yarbrough, Jim Lavender and Bill Hammond. And a lot of other people.”
Smith called those three Thursday morning.
“He wanted to know how retirement was,” Hammond said. “He’s a good person. He always looked to do the right thing.”
Yarbrough and Smith worked especially close on the original construction of Hammond Stadium, which brought spring training back to Fort Myers after the Kansas City Royals left Terry Park in 1987.
“I think the biggest thing about Bill is, he has left a mark that the Twins will enjoy for at least 30 years,” Yarbrough said. “He took it to a new level, something they didn’t have before. At the same time, whatever is good for Lee County is good for the Twins. And vice-versa. It’s a partnership. And he got that. The community was a winner.
“I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Bill Smith. I know they’re going to miss him with the Twins.”
By all accounts, the renovations to Hammond Stadium and the CenturyLink Sports Complex have proven to be a success. In fact, the project was recognized by Ballpark Digest with the Best Major Ballpark Renovation Award in 2015.
Smith will remain with the Twins through January 2017.