This story was originally prove by guest contributor Bob Davis in February 2014. Davis has been involved in Orange County lacrosse for over 40 years. We are lucky enough here at MaxLaxOC to be able to share with you the origins of Orange County Lacrosse through his words.
The 2014 Lacrosse season is just a few weeks away for a record number of 33 Orange County high schools. There are thousands more playing at the junior high and youth levels. For almost all of these players and their families, lacrosse is a new sport. Few are aware that lacrosse has been played in Orange County for more than 50 years. It’s time to meet the gentlemen who introduced the game to Orange County, The Three OC Lacrosse Amigos.
Lacrosse would not be where it is today without the efforts of Ed Smith, Tom Price and Carl Lawrence. Under the leadership of Smith, they started the Orange County Lacrosse Club in the fall of 1961. They would play their first season in the California Lacrosse Association in the spring of 1962. The OCLC would become a powerhouse in club lacrosse in California and the West. In 1965, 1966 and 1967 they would go undefeated, winning 32 straight games. The team was originally based in Costa Mesa, but scheduled games and exhibitions throughout Orange County, playing at Santa Ana Bowl (now Eddie West Stadium), Don Field at Santa Ana College and Lions Field in Fullerton to name just a few. Smith was able to get a steady stream of articles in the Register, Daily Pilot and other local newspapers of the day.
But they were more than just good players and pioneers for the sport. They represented the fraternal nature that Lacrosse is known for. Today’s opponent can become tomorrow’s team-mate, and in turn, a life time friend. This was never more evident than in the relationship these three shared.
Ed Smith and Tom Price were high school teammates at Garden City H.S. (Long Island, New York), who started playing in the late 1940’s. They would play against Carl Lawrence at Manhasset (Long Island, N.Y.), where all three were chosen as all stars, Smith as a goalie, Price and Lawrence as attackmen. Smith would play at Adelphi University; Lawrence would become an Honorable Mention All American at Syracuse University. Price would gravitate to California and earn a bachelors and master’s degree at Cal State Fullerton. Smith and Lawrence would become team mates on the Manhasset L.C. after college. Smith then served a tour with the Marines and ended up at El Toro.
In 1959 Smith joined the new Claremont Colleges L.C. and played for them for three years. He was also as an officer in the California Lacrosse Association. He was soon joined by high school buddy Price. After the 1961 season, Smith, a resident of Costa Mesa, put together the Orange County L.C. Lawrence had moved west after serving as a Marine fighter pilot at El Toro and also lived in Costa Mesa and quickly joined the group, becoming a player/coach. They would become the foundation for the team for years to come.
Smith would hang up his stick in 1968 followed by Lawrence and Price took over as team manager. He would also serve as an officer in the CLA and as chief referee. As a Tustin resident he would move the club’s home field to Foothill H.S. During the early 1970’s some of the best players in the country, including many former All Americans, would play on the field now used by the Knights of Foothill, a perennial contender for the Southern Section Championship. After 30 years as a player, Price would hang up the stick after the 1977 season.
Their playing days may have been over but their love of the game never stopped. If there was a big game, The Three Amigos were usually in attendance, especially if OCLC was playing arch rival Los Angeles L.C. They even made a few road trips for games out of the area. In 1980 the OCLC would play in Berkeley for the State Championship. The Three Amigos made the trip. After OC defeated Golden Gate L.C., they would act as honorary captains and received the Governor’s Cup, the state championship trophy.
In 1992 Ed Smith was the inaugural member chosen for the Orange County Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Tom Price would be inducted in 1993. Carl Lawrence refused to have his name submitted for nomination, saying that Eddie and Tom did all the work, all he did was play, or he would be in with them. They and their families remained close for the rest of their lives.
Price passed away in 2000. Lawrence followed in 2004. Smith remains very active and can be seen at many games and other lacrosse functions. On August 9, 2008 the Los Angeles Riptide would host the San Francisco Dragons at Orange Coast College. Ed Smith was introduced at halftime as The Father of Lacrosse in Orange County. Old timers in the crowd felt certain that Carl and TP were looking down and cheering “Way to go Eddie”.