Dwight Smith at front of team's hit parade

INSIDE THE ORIOLES

July 20, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

He is considered by most teammates he has played with to be one of the funniest men in baseball, but with Lee Smith on his team, Dwight isn't even the funniest guy named Smith playing for the Orioles.

Dwight Smith isn't the Orioles' best defensive outfielder. He isn't the club's best left-handed hitter. Rafael Palmeiro is. Smith isn't the fastest Oriole. Jeffrey Hammonds is.

So where does Dwight Smith rank at the top of the charts for the Orioles?

He has the best singing voice on the team, and nobody disputes that.

Smith has recorded an album titled "R U Down."

He sang the national anthem on Opening Day at Wrigley Field in 1992.

"It's the only way I could make the starting lineup," he said.

The Wrigley Field crowd went wild at the conclusion of Smith's anthem.

"It was like stepping up to the mike and going 4-for-4," Smith said.

Smith did the same at Anaheim Stadium this season when he played for the California Angels.

Plans are in the works for the rhythm and blues artist to sing the anthem before a game to be determined at Camden Yards.

The man has pipes.

And he has ears, too. He has been listening to music for as long as he can remember. Listening and mimicking.

"I knew I had a talent for singing since I was about 5 years old," Smith said. "I would mimic singers, and people would say I had a good voice. Just like anything else, when people tell you you are good at something, you start getting confident."

Smith bears a striking resemblance to comedian Martin Lawrence, who has a situation comedy on Fox. The main difference? Smith is funnier.

His face resembles Lawrence's. As for his voice?

"I would like to say Dwight Smith," Smith said. "But I guess I can sound a little like Quincy Jones."

Smith not only likes to sing, but he also likes to listen to singers. Asked to name a few of his favorite singers, Smith listed Luther Vandross first.

"Luther's a balladeer," Smith said. "And he sings the heck out of it, too." "I like Prince a lot, too," Smith added. "I like his versatility, his ability to sing and play an instrument. To do as well as he has for as long as he has isn't easy."

Smith, a native of Varnville, S.C., also singled out a regional talent, Peabo Bryson.

"I like him because he's from the Southeast, like I am," Smith said. "Plus he's a heck of a singer. He's like Luther kinda sorta."

Who else?

"Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers," he said. "He was a white guy I could mimic. He sounds like a black R&B singer kinda sorta."

A .284 lifetime hitter, Smith predicts not all of his hits will be by swinging his baseball bat.

One might come after he clears his throat.

The song he is most proud of is titled "Lonely."

"I think that song's going to bring a lot of people back together," Smith said.

"It's a song pertaining to loneliness. It's about a couple that breaks up and the man admits he's wrong and they end up getting back together."

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