LOS ANGELES (AP) — As Vin Scully closes out his career broadcasting Los Angeles Dodgers games, his successor is waiting in the wings.
Joe Davis has been working road games for the team this season, warming up for next year when the 28-year-old moves into Scully’s old booth full-time.
Davis shares a philosophy with Scully: It’s not about the broadcaster, it’s about the game. That should come as a relief to Dodgers fans who for 67 years haven’t heard anyone except Scully wax lyrical about their beloved team.
“Early on in my career I obsessively tried to nail the basics,” Davis said, citing time, game situation and score, pronouncing names and getting the facts right. “If you’re not good fundamentally than you lose all credibility before anyone knows what you sound like.”
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Davis was hired by the team last November to work with former Dodgers Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciaparra calling 50 road games on SportsNet LA, the team’s television channel that isn’t widely seen in Los Angeles because of an ongoing dispute between Time Warner Cable, which carries it, and other pay TV providers.
“This year there were plenty of nerves going into it because of the unknown and how people would accept me,” he said. “It’s exceeded expectations with how positive people have been.”
Some critics have pounced on social media, telling Davis that he’s no Scully.
“I’m always happy to remind them that nobody is,” he said.
Next year, Davis will do play-by-play with Hershiser and Garciaparra analyzing the action.
“It’s ridiculous how confident he is, how prepared he is, how much passion he has for the job,” Hershiser said of his young sidekick. “That’s going to serve him really well.”
Scully called Davis the night before his hiring was announced to welcome him and assure him it was a great gig.
“I’ve saved that voicemail in about a hundred different places,” he said. “A part of me is glad I missed the call.”
This season, Davis has flown from his home in Michigan to wherever the team is on the road. When the Dodgers are in Los Angeles, Scully works the games with Davis listening to the icon from long distance. He looks forward to being around the team full-time.
“There’s something romantic about baseball broadcasting,” he said, “and how that story writes itself over the course of an entire season.”
Davis grew up in tiny Potterville, Michigan, near Lansing, as a Chicago Cubs fan, listening to Pat Hughes call their games. Nationally, he’s been influenced by Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck.
Although Davis hasn’t sought out Scully for advice, not wanting to badger him in his final months, the Hall of Famer was asked recently if he had any.
“Be himself,” Scully said. “That’s the hardest thing in the world to be.”
Like Scully, Davis has strong support at home.
He and wife Libby, along with their 3-month-old daughter, Charlotte, are house hunting in Los Angeles in preparation for moving here full-time. The couple met as students at Beloit College in Wisconsin, where he earned a communications degree while playing quarterback and wide receiver on the football team.
“She’s seen me do games for nothing and make $16,000 a year doing minor league baseball,” he said. “She is the real star in the whole thing.”
Davis has called baseball, college football and basketball for Fox Sports, something he will continue to do, which means he won’t broadcast the Dodgers’ entire 162-game schedule. He declined to specify how many games he’ll miss.
“That was a big thing for me,” he said. “I didn’t want to give up the national stuff.”
Davis is six years older than Scully was when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers radio and TV booth as a 22-year-old in 1950.
“The Dodgers are not ones to change much,” Hershiser said. “Once the audience gets used to him and likes him, maybe he’ll be here forever.”