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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Interview Part 4: Butch Davis, Two Things

Bowie hitting coach Butch Davis in the visitors' dugout at Binghamton in August 2014. (G21D Photo)
Part 1: Home Crowd | Part 2: Simple Fact
Part 3: No Guarantees | Part 4: Two Things

Butch Davis has been a coach in the Orioles system for two decades now. He became a coach after a professional career that lasted 15 seasons, eight of those seasons with time in the majors.

It's those 15 years as a player, Davis said, that he brings to his job as a coach in the minors.

"I can tell them what it takes to get there," Davis told The Greatest 21 Days recently. "I tell them 'You've got to be determined. You've got to be willing to go the extra mile.

"'Don't think,'" Davis added, "'that it's going to be handed to you.'"

For Davis, it was never handed to him. His time in eight major league seasons was spread out over 12 calender years. In those 12 years, he got the equivalent of just over a season of major league appearances, 166 games.

He's been a coach with the Orioles since shortly after his retirement in 1994. Davis has served as hitting coach at AAA Rochester, manager at single-A Delmarva. He's served several seasons as hitting coach at AA Bowie. It is there where he served in 2014.

Bowie hitting coach Butch Davis, No. 13, manning the Bowie dugout in Binghamton in August 2013. (G21D Photo)
The message he has for his players, he said, is to stay steady.

"Don't get too high. Don't get too low," Davis said. "It's easy for a scout to come in and see you play when you're going really good. But, then again, they want to see you when you're going really, really bad and see how you carry yourself on the field.

"They want to see whether or not you are the same person," Davis added. "That's what I'm able to do. That's what I try to teach them."

Davis spoke with The Greatest 21 Days recently in the visitors dugout at Binghamton's NYSEG Stadium before a game between his Bowie Baysox and the AA Mets.

Davis recounted his career from growing up in North Carolina to turning pro and making his way to the majors. His playing career over, Davis has gone on to a long coaching career with the Orioles that's now spanned two decades.

Davis played his last game in 1994. He recalled his first year as a coach being tough, trying to get away from his player mentality and changing that to one of being a coach.
Bowie hitter Mike Yastrzemski takes a practice swing at Binghamton in August 2014. Yastrzemski's hitting coach was Butch Davis. (G21D Photo)
He recalled seeing guys play and thinking that could still be him out there on the field.

"But," he said, "once I decided to go into coaching, I went strictly into coaching."

He didn't want to take batting practice, and even declined offers to do so. After about for years, he recalled, finally giving it a try again. "I took a couple hacks one day," Davis said, "and I said, 'nah, it's not me.'"

Davis has spent his time as a coach trying to pass along the lessons he's learned as a player to his players.

A main lesson is how players should conduct themselves when things aren't going so well. Davis believes that when things are going bad, that should be something worn on the sleeve.

In those situations, Davis said, players just need to go out and play hard and consistently.
Bowie hitting coach Butch Davis, left, keeping tabs on a game at Binghamton in August 2014. (G21D Photo)
"There's always someone there watching," Davis said. "You never know, that one scout might be there and he might see something about you and put it in a report. Something really, really positive. Then, in the off-season, there it is, boom. Your name comes up."

For Davis, his name came up often. His major league time was spent with five different organizations, including 18 games spent in Baltimore over two seasons.

"It did, it really did," Davis said when it was pointed out the frequency that his name came up. "And I was glad. Because, you can't go back and find one coach that will tell you that I never hustled.

"That's one thing I believe in," Davis continued. "One thing about baseball players is, you can do two things that I know. You can be on time. And you can hustle. Those two things I know you can do and that's what we expect of you."

He's done it all within the Orioles system.

"I'm just very blessed and very fortunate," Davis said, "that the Orioles, that they had given me the opportunity to join the organization as a coach and I've been here for 20 years.

"I'd like to be here as long as possible and I will always owe them great thanks and gratitude for that."

Part 1: Home Crowd | Part 2: Simple Fact
Part 3: No Guarantees | Part 4: Two Things

Be sure and read Part 1: Butch Davis, Home Crowd

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for putting this series together. I still have my 1984 Donruss Butch Davis rookie card. What a cool story!