Ben Davis (baseball)
Davis on July 16, 2016
|Catcher / Pitcher|
Born: March 10, 1977|
Chester, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|September 25, 1998, for the San Diego Padres|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 3, 2004, for the Chicago White Sox|
|Runs batted in||204|
Mark Christopher "Ben" Davis (born March 10, 1977 in Chester, Pennsylvania) is a former Major League Baseball player. Davis began his career as a promising catcher, and spent seven seasons between 1998 and 2004 with San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners and the Chicago White Sox at the Major League level. 2001 was the only season in which he was a regular, playing in more than half his team's games. He was nicknamed Big Ben during his time in San Diego because of his tall stature (6'4").
After several seasons in the Minor Leagues, Davis converted to a pitcher in 2008, pitching parts of three seasons before retiring in 2011. He currently works as a broadcast commentator for the Philadelphia Phillies and lives with his wife, two sons, and two daughters in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Davis graduated in 1995 from Malvern Preparatory School in Malvern, Pennsylvania. He batted .514, going 36 for 70 with six home runs and 37 RBIs as a senior. He ranked as the second-best prospect by Baseball America in the 1995 draft. He was also tabbed by the same publication as being the Best Defensive Catcher and the high school player closest to the majors. While at Malvern Prep, Davis also played on the basketball team where he competed against fellow Main Line prodigy Kobe Bryant of Lower Merion High School.
San Diego Padres
He was a first-round pick, second overall, in the 1995 Major League Baseball draft by the San Diego Padres out of Malvern Preparatory School. USA Today called him the best high school catcher since Dale Murphy in 1974. Davis was named to the Pioneer League All-Star team in his first professional season with the Advanced-Rookie Idaho Falls Braves in 1995.
In 1996 he was limited to designated hitter duties for the first month of the season with Rancho Cucamonga Quakes due to a sore right elbow. He threw out 25 of 98 attempted base-stealers. He also spent the 1997 season at Rancho Cucamonga throwing out 59 of 159 attempted base-stealers.
His contract was purchased from the Double-A Mobile BayBears on September 19, 1998. He made his Major League debut with the Padres as a defensive replacement on September 25 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He reached on an error in his first and only at-bat of the season. Davis was named to the Southern League All-Star team in his first season with Mobile. He threw out 47 of 83 attempted base-stealers.
He spent the majority of the 1999 season with the Padres. He started 71 of 93 games for San Diego after being recalled on June 23. He collected his first major league hit on June 26 against the Colorado Rockies, a single off Mark Brownson. Davis posted first career four-hit game on September 15 against the Atlanta Braves, including a solo home run off John Smoltz.
Davis split the 2000 season between the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s and San Diego. He began the season with the Padres, appearing in seven games before being optioned to Las Vegas on April 20. He was recalled on July 8. He was placed on the disabled list in August with a strained left oblique.
Davis was the subject of controversy in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 26, 2001, as a member of the San Diego Padres. Starting pitcher Curt Schilling took a perfect game into the eighth inning with one out when Davis reached base safely on a drag bunt to second baseman Jay Bell.
After Davis reached base, many of the Diamondbacks' players shouted obscenities at him for supposedly breaking baseball's "unspoken rule". After the game, Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly called Davis's play "chicken."
Many analysts still debate Davis's decision to bunt for a base hit as the Diamondbacks were only up 2–0, which brought the tying run to the plate. San Diego's Alex Arias led off the ninth with a clean double. Schilling completed the three-hitter for the Diamondbacks' 3–1 win. This game started a fierce rivalry between the teams, which included several bench-clearing brawls, that lasted for several years, but which has since dissipated.
In 2001 Davis was traded with Wascar Serrano and Alex Arias to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Brett Tomko, Tom Lampkin, and Ramón Vázquez. This trade, in large, disappointed the Padres organization because of their continuing failures to produce "home-grown" talent. Davis was a highly regarded top prospect.
Davis had a .998 fielding percentage in 77 games behind the plate and threw out 44 percent of would be base stealers in 2002. He batted .300 with runners in scoring position, and was 6-for-11 with two home runs with the bases loaded. He also hit .294 with six home runs on the road as opposed to .216 with one home run at home. He batted .294 in the second half of the season, raising his average from .216 at the break to .259 at the end of the season. All seven of Davis' home runs came from the left side of the plate. He hit his first American League home run and first homer of the season May 4 against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. He had nine-game hitting streak from May 17 to June 6, going 13-for-29 during that span. He hit first triple of season on August 4 against the Cleveland Indians.
He spent the second season with the Mariners splitting backstop duties with Dan Wilson in 2003. Davis appeared in 80 games, hitting .236 with six home runs and 42 RBIs. He hit a go-ahead home run off Ricardo Rincón to lead off the 11th inning April 3 against the Oakland Athletics. He also tied a club record with three doubles on June 21 against his former team, the Padres.
Chicago White Sox
Davis appeared in just ten games with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights before being placed on the disabled list with a fractured finger on his right hand. He also fought through a right elbow injury and missed the remainder of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He batted .242 with one home run and three RBIs before the injury. He was released after the season.
New York Yankees
For the 2006 season, after signing with the New York Yankees, Davis played for the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Yankees and the Class-A Advanced Tampa Yankees He went 3-for-16 with a double, home run and two RBIs for Tampa. He played in 48 games with Columbus and hit .222 with six doubles, four home runs and 20 RBIs. On January 12, 2007, he re-signed and was invited to spring training by the Yankees.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Davis was released by the Yankees April 1, 2007. In May 2007, he joined the independent Camden Riversharks and played well enough that he was signed to a minor league contract by the Los Angeles Dodgers in June. He was the assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas, the team he had played for when they were San Diego's affiliate. Davis hit .331 with six doubles, three triples, three home runs and 19 RBIs in 36 games with Camden and played in 36 games with Las Vegas and hit .218 with four doubles, a home run and 11 RBIs.
In January 2008, Davis was signed by the Baltimore Orioles to a minor league contract, with an invitation to spring training. Davis did not make the team coming out of spring training and was assigned to the Double-A Bowie Baysox. Davis received a mid-season promotion to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. In 24 games with Bowie hit .227 with six doubles, a triple, two home runs and 13 RBIs, with Norfolk Davis hit .172 with two doubles, a home run and two RBIs in 20 games. He was released on June 14.
After his release, he again signed with the River Sharks and attempted to make a comeback to Major League Baseball as a pitcher. In November 2008, Davis signed a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds as a pitcher. He made his pitching debut on April 23 against the Charlotte Stone Crabs tossing a scoreless inning with no hits and one strikeout. Davis injured himself on May 17 and did not return that season. At the end of the 2009 season he was 0-1 with a 3.09 ERA with four saves in nine games.
Davis pitched for the Camden Riversharks for 2010. He announced his retirement from professional baseball on April 16, 2011.
Soon after his retirement, Davis began working for CSN Philadelphia, where he is now an analyst for the Phillies Focus show, as well as Phillies Post Game. For the 2015 season, he joined the Phillies' broadcast team as an in-game analyst alongside Tom McCarthy, Matt Stairs, Mike Schmidt, and Gregg Murphy. Davis has also made regular appearances on 94 WIP Sports Radio as a co-host in various time slots.
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- "Some D'backs not happy Davis derailed perfection". USA Today. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
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