Ben Davis (baseball)

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Ben Davis
Catcher
Born: (1977-03-10) March 10, 1977 (age 37)
Chester, Pennsylvania
Batted: Switch Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 25, 1998 for the San Diego Padres
Last MLB appearance
October 3, 2004 for the Chicago White Sox
Career statistics
Batting average .237
Home runs 38
Runs batted in 204
Teams

Mark Christopher "Ben" Davis (born March 10, 1977 in Chester, Pennsylvania) is a former Major League Baseball catcher. Davis began his career as a promising catcher, but converted to a pitcher in 2008.[1] He currently is the Philadelphia Phillies pre and post game analyst and lives with his wife, son, and two daughters in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

He has played for the San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners and the Chicago White Sox at the Major League level. He was nicknamed Big Ben during his time in Seattle because of his tall stature. Davis was once a highly touted prospect in the Padres' organization but has bounced around the Minor Leagues since 2005.

Amateur career[edit]

High school[edit]

Davis graduated in 1995 from Malvern Preparatory School. 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.[2]

Professional career[edit]

San Diego Padres[edit]

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 in Malvern, Pennsylvania. USA Today called him the best high school catcher since Dale Murphy in 1974.[3] 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 basestealers. He also spent the 1997 season at Rancho Cucamonga throwing out 59 of 159 attempted basestealers.

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 basestealers.

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 51's 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.

Controversy[edit]

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 Diamondback's players shouted obscenities at him for supposedly breaking baseball's "unwritten rule". After the game, Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly called Davis' play "chicken." [4]

Many analysts continually debate Davis' decision to bunt for a base hit being that 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.

Seattle Mariners[edit]

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.[5]

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[edit]

On June 27, 2004, Davis was once again traded, this time from the Mariners to the Chicago White Sox with Freddy García in exchange for catcher Miguel Olivo, Mike Morse and Jeremy Reed.

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[edit]

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[edit]

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.

Baltimore Orioles[edit]

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.

Cincinnati Reds[edit]

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, he never made a return. At the end of the 2009 season he was 0-1 with a 3.09 ERA with four saves in nine games.

Camden Riversharks[edit]

Davis pitched for the Camden Riversharks for 2010. He announced his retirement from professional baseball on April 16, 2011.[6]

Philadelphia TV analyst[edit]

Currently, Ben is working for CSN Philadelphia, where he is an analyst for the Phillies Focus show, as well as Phillies Post Game.[7]

References[edit]

External links[edit]