The year is 1980, and the Kansas City Royals and Philadelphia Phillies are playing in the Major League Baseball World Series.
All around the country, eyes are glued to grainy colored television screens, including a pair of eyes in a humble home in Starkville, Mississippi.
Those eyes belong to a young Danny Smith, who’s just entered his time at Starkville High School. Those eyes belonged to someone who was learning how to fall in love with sports, and those eyes would never let another day go by where they weren’t watching some type of game.
Danny Smith now serves as the sports editor of the Starkville Daily News, one of the few true daily newspapers left in the state of Mississippi. Smith can be found in the SDN office late into the evening on most nights, tapping away as the monitor screen reflects off his spectacled face.
“I’m a Golden Triangle dude,” said Smith. “I’ve been here all my life.”
Smith got his start at the SHS student paper in the early '80s and never looked back. He says he always wanted to be a writer of some sort, but that World Series featuring Pete Rose and George Brett sparked his love for athletics.
When he’s not laying out the next day’s pages or writing the next paper’s stories, Smith is watching the games to do so, and it doesn’t matter if it’s an SEC football game at Mississippi State University or a Starkville High School tennis match, Smith says they’re all just as important to him.
“If it matters to those folks, it matters to me. That’s how I’ve looked at it,” said Smith. “It’s important to those folks, then it’s important to me. I’m going to give them just as much coverage as I would give (Mississippi) State beating Missouri on Saturday.”
Smith has also earned himself quite the reputation as a co-worker. Just ask SDN news reporter Cal Brown.
“If someone told me about something bad or mean Danny did, I would immediately stop listening to their lies. There is not a bad bone in Danny’s body,” said Brown. “And he is truly one of the best people I’ve known, and I am blessed to work with him. I hope he never asks me to do this, but if Danny would ask me to jump off a water tower, I would do it. That’s how much I respect Danny.”
David Smith, who has no blood relation to Danny, oddly enough, is now a news producer at a television station in Birmingham, Alabama, and he got his start in media with Danny at the SDN shortly after graduating from Mississippi State.
“Danny P. Smith is a prime example of a great individual, journalist and community member. There's not many people left in the world we live in that never have anything negative to say about others, and Danny stands strong as one,” said Smith. “I worked with him and have absolutely no idea how he manages to do everything he does, covering every single school around the community, and being loved by each and every one of them for the work he does. There is no one I've ever met like Danny; he is truly one of a kind.”
Danny said his home is here in Starkville, and although there have been offers elsewhere on larger beats and for larger roles, his love for the Golden Triangle and its people has trumped it all.
Smith has a religious immediate family. Several of his uncles are preachers and pastors. He says his ministry is a bit different, though.
“This is my ministry,” said Smith. “I want to minister to those folk — The archery folks, the basketball folks, volleyball — it doesn’t matter. Whatever sport is in season, that’s the one that matters to me.
Smith has told the stories of the residents of Starkville for decades. He’s interviewed Jerry Rice, Chris Jones and numerous other Mississippians that have went on to do great things. He’s told the stories of Starkville for decades, and hopefully, that’s not going to change any time soon.
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