Niagara Gazette

June 10, 2013

Davis lends experience to Herd in Brown's absence

By Doug Smith
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — When Marty Brown sat down, Doug Davis stood up. And that’s how it came to pass that for 48 magical hours, the Bisons’ manager wore a World Series ring.

Well, maybe they weren’t that magical. The Bisons went 0-2 in the Davis era, shut out in 16 of 18 innings by the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.

But as infielder Jim Negrych put it in a bit of rueful self-criticism, “It’s not because you’re lookin’ for Marty down in the box that you swing at a bad pitch with a runner in scoring position.”

The winningest manager in modern Bisons history got a half-week off after a sit-down strike in Norfolk last weekend. Demanding to know why baserunner interference had not been called on a ball hit to Negrych, Brown sat on the field for several minutes. His “Occupy Norfolk” campaign made the Sean Hannity Show on Fox News Thursday night.

Standard procedure calls for a coach to fill in for a momentarily absent manager, but “I was in town and they asked me if I would,” said Davis, who holds what seems like a desk job, as minor league coordinator.

“I didn’t mind,” said Davis, who cherishes the hardware he won as bench coach under Jack McKeon for the 2003 World Series Champion Marlins. “If I’m in town, I’ll go out and pitch batting practice,” over the safety-first objections of wife Mary Jane back home in Bloomsburg, Pa.

Davis works out of Dunedin, Fla., the Toronto Blue Jays’ winter home, and rotates through the system (including Auburn and Manchester, N.H.), checking on needs, patching up cracks. There’s no better recommendation than being the personal choice for a stickler such as Bisons general manager Mike Buczkowski.

Davis has always stuck up for his players, his team and even his opponents. He enjoyed telling Brown of his role in one of the quickest Class AAA game in years, closing day in Oklahoma City in the early 90’s.

“There’d been an incident the night before,” Davis recalls, “and both benches cleared.” The league immediately fined every player $300, a fair piece of change for a minor-leaguer at the time.

“Well, we could have been suspended, so we all (including the rival Iowa Cubs, also well out of playoff contention) decided to start our suspensions that day,” as Davis puts it. “The pitchers were throwing like (batting practice) and everyone swings at the first pitch.” A passed ball in the ninth inning finally produced a run and “the game was over in 56 minutes.”

What happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse, but it was fun to watch Marty Brown smile at this new revelation that for at least 48 hours, he had another rebel in the cause.

Signal back to Base Paths via pollyndoug@hotmail.com.