Joe Davis, the new play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, visited the South Pasadena Public Library Community Room Monday night to participate in an interview moderated by Los Angeles Times’ Assistant Sports Editor Houston Mitchell. Afterwards, Davis took questions from the audience and spent more than an hour posing for pictures and signing autographs for fans.
Intrigue surrounds the 30-year-old as he begins his second year in the booth beside color commentator and Hall of Famer Orel Hershiser, mostly because he assumed the role Dodger legend Vin Scully held for the previous 67 years. Scully’s voice was synonymous with the Dodgers, his career spanning the ball club’s entire existence in Los Angeles, and Davis has no delusions about replacing his predecessor.
“That would be impossible,” said the South Pasadena resident, “so I focus on my responsibility to the organization and the fans to give them my best, to present the facts and let Orel provide the color commentary.
“Vin has given me two crucial pieces of advice: be yourself, if you’re trying to be something you’re not, you’ll be unsuccessful, and, when the house burns down, be calm.”
The latter piece of advice came in handy frequently last season, when the Blue Crew made its remarkable run to the World Series before falling to the Houston Astros in Game 7. More than their number of victories, it was the way the Dodgers pulled them off that presented Davis with opportunities seemingly night in and night out to make exciting calls.
“A lot of this job is timing and opportunity,” he said. “I know guys who have had better careers than others but just didn’t have those great moments. Last year, there were so many of them. Being able to stay cool in those big moments, that’s the best piece of advice Vin has given me.”
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Dodgers Historian and fellow South Pasadena resident, Mark Langill, spoke briefly before the interview began, crediting Davis’s preparation and knowledge for the young man’s ability to call game after game with poise and precision. “On the first day of spring training,” Langill said, “just like Clayton Kershaw, Joe’s ready to go.”
Davis first dreamt of his broadcasting career in the 5th or 6th grade, he said, when he would sit on his living room couch watching as Joe Buck, one of his broadcasting role models, called games. After graduating from Beloit College in Wisconsin, where he played four years of football, Davis began working for the Double A Tampa Bay Rays affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits. He was picked up from there by Fox and ESPN, and has spent time calling college football, college basketball, and even college hockey, as well as serving stints on the MLB network.
As for his choosing to make South Pasadena his home, the Michigan native said the city satisfies his small town, Midwestern tastes. “Maybe it’s the sidewalks, the tree-lined streets, the way everybody seems to know each other – every time I walk out the steps of my house in the morning, I think, ‘this is an extraordinary city,’” Davis told the crowd.
“When I moved out to LA, people told me, ‘find your pocket, find one you like, because otherwise you’re going to have to do a lot of driving,’” he continued. “Luckily for me, South Pas is just a 15 minute drive from Dodger stadium.”