From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Smith, Albert Emanuel "Al"

(born: October 24, 1932  -  died: November 17, 2013) Albert Emanuel Smith is remembered as an education administrator in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. It has gone unknown that he also made a historical mark in Kentucky. 

In 1955, Al Smith was the first baseman for the Paducah Chiefs baseball team in Paducah, KY. The Chiefs was a minor league professional baseball team and Al Smith was the teams' first African American player. Paul McGuire was the other African American player who was placed on the teams active list in 1955, he was a reserve who played shortstop. McGuire and Al Smith were friends and had played baseball together for several years. They were both in college when they signed to play for the Paducah Chiefs.

Both men had played baseball in high school in Chicago, IL. Paul McGuire had been an All-City halfback at Morgan Park High School. His friend Al Smith also called Chicago home when he signed to play one year for the Paducah Chiefs team. Smith was 22 years old and a senior at North Carolina A&T. His friend McGuire was a junior. Albert Emanuel Smith was born in Sioux Falls, SD, and he died in Pembroke Pines, FL. He was the husband of Sadie A. L. Burris, and the son of Ethel Johnson and Calvert Smith.

The Paducah Chiefs baseball team was a Class D farm club in the Kitty League when the team ended in 1955. The team had played in the Mississippi-Ohio Valley League in 1950, and the prior year, the Chiefs was an independent baseball team. The Paducah Baseball Association had been organized in 1948 and a park was built for professional baseball. J. Polk Brooks was elected president of the newly formed association.

The final year of the team, in 1955, was also the year the team integrated with the addition of Paul McGuire and Al Smith. Both men joined the team in midseason. Al Smith replaced first baseman Bill Flowerday. With two African Americans on the team, there were two water jugs, one for the team players who did not want to drink from the same jug as McGuire and Smith, and one for the other players. When the team stopped to eat, McGuire and Smith remained on the bus because the restaurants were segregated and did not cater to African Americans. Paul McGuire left the team and Al Smith finished out the season.

Albert Emanuel Smith left baseball to become an education administrator and he held several positions. He served as president of Florida Memorial University (FMU) for 13 years. He had also served as president of South Carolina State University. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. 

SOURCES: Bill Carter, "Al Smith, first Negro player in Paducah, received big welcome," The Paducah Sun-Democrat, 06/14/1955, p.10; see Al Smith stats at Baseball References; see the completed William J. Weiss baseball statistics questionnaire by Al Smith in Ancestry; see Albert Smith in the North Carolina Marriage Records in Ancestry; Karl Harrison, "Batboy relives glory of Paducah Chiefs' last season," The Paducah sun, 08/15/2003, p.2A; Ed Kellow, "Tilghman football, Brewers basketball squads steal march in '47," The Paducah Sun-Democrat, 01/04/1948, p.16; and Carli Teproff, "Albert Smith, president emeritus," South Florida Sun Sentinel, 11/21/2013, p.B5. For more about Al Smith's career as an education administrator see Robert Beatty, "Former FMU president dies," South Florida Times, 11/24/2013 (online).

Kentucky County & Region

Read about McCracken County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Paducah, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: South Florida times (newspaper)
NKAA Source: South Florida sun-sentinel (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Paducah sun (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Ancestry (online)
NKAA Source: The Paducah sun-democrat (newspaper)

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Smith, Albert Emanuel "Al",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed February 21, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-08-07 01:28:46