06/26/2002 5:35 PM ET
Davis living an umpire's dream
Veteran excited to work All-Star Game behind plate
By Christie Cowles / MLB.com
Umpire Gerry Davis has been named Crew Chief of the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee, the third Midsummer Classic the 21-year veteran has worked during his professional baseball career.
"It's a nice feather to have," he said. "The All-Star Game is always a festive kind of atmosphere and being the crew chief means I have to work home plate. So, there's some work involved too, it's an honor to be chosen."
Ralph Nelson, Vice President, Umpiring said the All-Star Game umpires are chosen based on their performance this season.
"All the umpires that we choose for the All-Star Game are having All-Star years, just like the players. Gerry Davis and all them are just having an outstanding season," Nelson said. "I sat down with my supervisors and took their suggestions. Then I sit down and I look at all the different names and I come up with a crew."
Nelson said the most senior umpire picked for the All-Star crew is chosen to be both the home plate umpire and the crew chief.
Davis, 49, previously worked at the 1989 All-Star Game in Anaheim and the 1997 All-Star Game in Cleveland.
In the offseason, Davis makes his home in Appleton, Wisc. He said many of his relatives will attend the All-Star Game celebration this year because Milwaukee is only about an hour and a half drive from Appleton.
"It's kind of in the backyard, it's very nice," Davis said.
He said he is looking forward to the upcoming events taking place in Milwaukee.
"Having friends and family there, it will be an opportunity for us all to get together in a festive kind of atmosphere. It should be a lot of fun," he said.
Fellow umpires Paul Emmel, Marty Foster, Jerry Meals, Chuck Meriwether and Tim Tschida will join Davis on the umpire crew.
Nelson said it was tough for him to decide which umpires would officiate this year's All-Star Game.
"We had a lot of people we could choose from, because the umpire staff as a whole is having a very good year," he said. "But, you could only pick one guy, so that's what we did."
Nelson said he enjoys having Davis on the Major League staff every day because of the qualities he displays.
"He's a consumate professional, he is an umpire who controls the game, has terrific experience, he's had a couple of World Series. He knows how to run a crew," Nelson said.
"He's very well known for having a very consistent strike zone. He's exactly what we look for in umpires. He's a professional and he exhibits that every time he's on the field."
Davis said he is looking forward to the opportunity and feels that it will be more fun than stress to work behind the plate.
"I think that people are honored to be selected for it and once the game starts people want to win -- there's no question that there's some competitiveness between the two leagues," Davis said. "But, I don't think it will be as stressful as a regular season game or the postseason."
Davis has had an opportunity to work postseason series before, including two World Series ('96, '99) and six League Championship Series ('90, '92, '95, '98, '00, '01).
He said the 1996 World Series was an unforgettable experience.
"Probably the biggest thrill was working the plate in Game 6 of the 1996 World Series, between the Yankees and the Braves," he said. "Just the whole atmosphere of the World Series and it was the deciding game so the city was really electric then."
Davis said he enjoys the challenges of working at the Major League level every day.
"It's some of the greatest athletes in the world, and an opportunity to officiate those games is exciting," he said.
He said he always thought he would go into sports of some kind, but he didn't realize when he umpired his first Little League game at age 13 that it later would turn into a career.
"Unless you are an umpire's son, you don't grow up thinking you want to be an umpire. Most red-blooded American boys grow up wanting to be a player, and I was the same," Davis said. "I wanted to be a professional baseball player if I could, but that dream was kind of short-lived so I turned to umpiring."
The profession has worked out well for him.
"I've never pictured myself as a 9-to-5 kind of guy," he said. "I like the challenges of being a Major League umpire. Regardless of how good you were the night before or how bad you were the night before, you get to go out the next night and prove it all over again. I enjoy that challenge."
Davis played baseball in college until he was 20 for the University of Missouri at St. Louis, which is where he is from originally. He also played semi-pro ball in St. Louis.
"I used to play baseball and I hurt my arm. The manager recruited me to do the umpiring since I was hurt and couldn't play. He said 'you're gonna umpire the next game,' so I did," Davis said. "He sent away for an application to umpire school for me. I knew I wanted to stay involved in sports in some capacity, so I went to school."
He attended the Al Somers Umpire School in 1976 and joined the Major League umpire staff in 1985. After umpire school he worked in the Midwest League, the Eastern League, the American Association, the Puerto Rican Winter League, and then the Major Leagues.
Besides umpiring Major League games, Davis also owns an umpire equipment and apparel business called Gerry Davis Sports that he started in 1997.
"It's for the individual umpires. So if a guy working Little League games or high school games needs equipment, they either log on to our web page, or we have catalogs that we send as well," he said. "[The business] sells uniforms and equipment to amateur umpires around the country, so I do that during my offseason and I'm sure that's something I'll continue to do."
Christie Cowles is an Editor/Producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
|Gerry Davis has been named the Crew Chief for the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee. (Christie Cowles/MLB.com)