published Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Davey Smith's song welcomes Yankees reliever Kelley

Davey Smith
Davey Smith
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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Davey Smith’s song “These Boots Ain’t Just for Show” is available for download at daveysmithmusic.com. It will be included on an album expected to be released later this year.

Davey Smith grew up dreaming of playing in Yankee Stadium. And now he's doing just that.

No, it's not baseball he's playing. It's a song, titled "These Boots Ain't Just For Show," and the Yankee Stadium crowd hears it over the loudspeakers whenever New York reliever Shawn Kelley comes in to pitch.

Smith is a local singer and songwriter who met Kelley over the winter at a SCORE International fundraising banquet in Fort Oglethorpe, where Kelley was a guest of featured speaker Andy Pettitte. The two have a mutual friend in Eric Henderson, who works with Smith and whose wife is a friend of Kelley's wife.

Kelley is from Louisville, Ky., but now makes his home in the offseason in Chattanooga. The Smiths and Kelleys have children attending the same pre-school.

It was after that winter meeting with Smith that Kelley approached him about personalizing a song for him for when he would enter games -- much like longtime Yankees closer Mariano Rivera did for his jaunt from the bullpen to the pitcher's mound to Metallica's "Enter Sandman."

"I started writing the weekend before Shawn left to go down to spring training," Smith said. "It took me about a week, week and a half, two weeks -- something like that. The writing was a blind challenge. What do you do?"

Kelley helped by giving Smith some specifics, as well as some things to stay away from. For instance, Kelley did not want his name or the Yankees franchise mentioned. For a foundation, Smith based his song on the similarities between entertainers and athletes and the sacrifices their families make while they chase their dreams.

"I gave him some songs that I'd come out to in the past to work with as far as the beat, and he said he'd put a couple lyrics together," Kelley said in a story on yesnetwork.com. "He did and it sounded good, so I'm using it."

Smith said it would've been a thrill to be asked to do something like this by anyone associated with any MLB organization. The fact it is for someone playing for his favorite team makes it that much sweeter.

Athletically Smith is more known for being a standout football lineman at Boyd-Buchanan, but he grew up in Whitwell and like his father, Randy, a former longtime local television sports anchor, is a lifelong Yankees fan. One of Smith's songs, "When You're Young," mentions the anticipation of that day's baseball game from the point of view of a boy who "can't wait to put on those pinstripes."

Smith said he has to buy a new Yankees hat about every two or three years because he wears them out. He does have one nice fitted one for special occasions.

"Every team I played on from the first time I played baseball until I was 12 years old, Dad would coach and we were the Yankees every year," Smith said. "He grew up listening to Mel Allen broadcast the games. I have the ticket from my first trip to Yankee Stadium framed. It was in 1985 against the White Sox."

David Robertson, who recently returned from the disabled list, was expected to be the Yankees' closer this season. But for the two-week period he was out, Kelley was in the closer's role and registered the first save for New York post Rivera. Through Thursday's games Kelley was 4-for-4 in save opportunities with a 1.86 earned run average.

Smith's work may not have anything to do with Kelley's performances, but once-skeptical reliever teammates at least seem to like the idea of his personlized song.

"They said, 'Hey, that's different; that's neat,'" Kelley said in a story to the Wall Street Journal (online.wsj.com). "I think at first, I don't think people had confidence that it was going to be any good, but now that they've heard it they're jealous for sure."

Smith said a family trip to New York to take in some games has been planned for early summer. Seems like a good time to break out that regal cap.

"It's crazy how it all came together," Smith said. "I hope they win the World Series and Shawn saves the last game. Maybe he'll have a great career and the song will go down in Yankees lore, like 'Enter Sandman.'"

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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