Richard A. (Cap'n Dick) Smith, longtime coach and athletic director, was the embodiment of the spirit of athletics at Washington and Lee University.
A native of Culpeper County, Va., Cap'n Dick was a member of the Washington and Lee class of 1913. As an undergraduate he was an outstanding second baseman and captain of the baseball team and a member of the football team until an injury forced his retirement. It was as coach and athletic director, however, that Cap'n Dick made his mark on Washington and Lee athletics.
Cap'n Dick became athletic director in 1921 and remained in that post until his retirement in 1954. He coached baseball for 30 years from 1922 to 1952, during which period his teams claimed a Southern Conference championship and several Virginia Big Six championships. Several of Cap'n Dick's player went on to play professional baseball, most notably Emerson Dickman of the Boston Red Sox. Cap'n Dick also coached the basketball team from 1926 to 1930. From 1928 to 1930, his basketball teams recorded 32 wins and 6 losses against some of the toughest teams in the South.
Under Cap'n Dick's aegis, Washington and Lee developed one of the most comprehensive intercollegiate and intramural athletic programs in the Southern Conference. He was also one of the most influential figures in the history of the conference. At the time of his retirement, Cap'n Dick was the dean of Southern Conference athletic directors, having served in that position longer than any of his league colleagues.
Cap'n Dick, who was a member of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, died in 1975 at the age of 86.