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Scott Davison : By the Time He Was 2, Father Knew Baseball Would Fit This Star to a Tee

Times Staff Writer

Scott Davison says he was 2 years old when he first held a baseball bat. Not long after that, Ralf Davison knew his eldest son was destined to become an exceptional player.

“I started him on a plastic tee and he hit the (bleep) out of the ball,” Ralf Davison recalled. “He picked up a ball when he was 4 or 5 years old. You could tell he was going to have a good arm. He could just fire it. He’s excelled ever since he got into T-ball.”

From T-ball to youth leagues to high school, Scott Davison has been a dominant figure in the sport he hopes to make a living at someday. Nearly all of the teams he has played on have won championships and he has never been a member of a losing club.

When he ends his four-year varsity career this spring, Davison will hold virtually every individual baseball record in Redondo High history. Records are also falling on a broader scale.

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The pitcher-shortstop set the CIF-Southern Section career record for runs batted in last Saturday, and he is three hits away from the all-time hit record. He is also among the career leaders in pitching wins, strikeouts, home runs, runs scored and doubles.

“As a complete player, he’s the best I’ve seen since I’ve been coaching,” said Harry Jenkins, in his 18th year as Redondo’s coach. “Just his numbers alone prove that.”

Davison’s numbers this season are a testimony to his versatility.

The right-hander is 12-0 as a pitcher with 10 complete games and an ERA of 0.26. Perhaps most impressive are his strikeout-to-walk totals. He has fanned 150 batters while walking only 16 in 79 innings.

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As the team’s No. 3 hitter, he is batting .424 (39 for 92) with six home runs and 36 RBIs.

Davison’s pitching, hitting and defense have helped Redondo to a 24-1 overall record, a 7-0 mark in the Pioneer League and the top ranking in the Southern Section 4-A Division heading into today’s 3 p.m. game at Centennial of Compton.

“I think he’s in a class by himself,” said Miraleste Coach Ken Russell. “He probably rates with (El Segundo’s Scott) McGregor of that era. He’s not only a good athlete, but, from all appearances, he has an awful lot of poise in tough situations.

“He dominates the game, not only on the mound but when he’s at shortstop and with his bat. He’s a pleasure to watch, even when he’s beating you.”

While his statistics are intimidating, Davison is not a physically imposing athlete. At 5-11 and 170 pounds, he is has a rather slight build. But Jenkins points out that his 17-year-old star can pack a wallop.

“I think he’s a real sleeper as a potential long-ball hitter,” he said. “His bat speed is just tremendous. He’s a front-foot hitter like (Roberto) Clemente used to be, but his hands are back.”

Davison, selected one of the nation’s top 50 high school seniors before the season by Collegiate Baseball, is expected to be one of the first picks in the June draft. If the draft doesn’t pan out, he has a college scholarship to fall back on. He signed a letter of intent on April 13 with USC.

“If he was on our staff right now, he’d be one of our weekend starters,” said USC pitching coach Frank Sanchez.

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Davison says he would like to play professional baseball as soon as possible.

“If I get drafted high enough and the money’s right, I definitely want to sign,” Davison said. “If the offer is not right, I’ll enjoy going to USC. I have a lot of friends there. But I’d much rather sign (a pro contract).”

Jenkins feels Davison’s ability to play either middle infielder or pitcher increases his value.

“I think with his tools, he has a chance to play professionally,” said Jenkins, who has had several former players drafted, including pitcher Wayne Wilson, a first-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 1983.

“The team that drafts him is getting a kid who’s a professional prospect in two areas, which is unusual. I see him as a regular player (infielder) now, but I don’t know. He keeps throwing harder every year. Some scouts have his breaking pitch rated right now as a major-league slider.”

Davison’s fastball is consistently clocked between 84 and 87 m.p.h., using an accurate radar gun, Jenkins said.

The dream to play major-league baseball is something that has thrived in the Davison family for many years, first with Ralf and now with Scott and his younger brother Brian, a sophomore who plays second base for Redondo.

Ralf Davison was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1969 after a brilliant career at now-defunct Lennox High, where he played the same positions as Scott does, pitcher and shortstop. In his senior year he was 14-1 and hit .397.

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Ralf Davison thought he was destined for the big leagues, but four months into his first pro season he was released from the Padres’ double-A team in Lodi.

“It was very disappointing,” he said. “I thought I was going to make it. I know Scott wants a shot at the bigs. He has a lot more talent than I had. I was a Punch-and-Judy hitter. He’s more of a long-ball threat.”

Ralf Davison frequently pitches batting practice for Redondo and he was Scott’s coach for eight years in Little League.

Said Ralf: “Once he got to know it all, I decided it was time for me to get out.”

Jenkins says he knew there was something special about Davison when he brought him up to the Redondo varsity as a 14-year-old freshman.

“Normally, you just get by with a freshman,” the coach said. “But he was a star coming in as a 14-year-old. It wasn’t his physical ability as much as it was his mental ability to handle that situation. He was very mature as a young guy, and that’s increased and increased.”

Davison was 7-0 as a freshman and earned all-Bay League honors. He was 11-3 as a sophomore and last season he finished 12-2. His 42-5 career record is second in the Southern Section only to McGregor, who won 51 games for El Segundo from 1969 to 1972.

Because of his above-average ability, Davison grew up playing on teams with older players. Maybe that explains why he was so successful as a freshman.

Davison says older players helped him when he was a freshman, especially pitcher Paul Johnson, who now plays for Cal State Fullerton. These days, it’s Davison who guides the newcomers.

“I try to help the younger players on our team,” he said. “It’s fun to teach my brother what I’ve learned. We take ground balls together every day in practice.”

Jenkins says Davison is like having “a second coach out there. He has so much experience.”

Part of that experience came last summer, when Davison played on the Mary Star team that won the Connie Mack World Series. Playing on a team dominated by high school graduates, he posted a 10-0 record as a pitcher and played five other positions: second base, shortstop, third base, left field and designated hitter.

Has success gone to Davison’s head? His father is somewhat surprised that it hasn’t.

“He’s taken everything really well,” Ralf Davison said. “He can get a little cocky, but I think a good player has to have that in him.”

Scott Davison’s 0-2 playoff record over the past two years proves that he is human. Millikan hit him hard in a first-round game in 1986, and last season he gave up 12 hits and five earned runs in a stunning 6-5 loss to South Hills of West Covina in another 3-A Division opener. This season, he has given up three earned runs in 79 innings.

Davison says his playoff losses serve as motivation.

“I’ve heard that people say Redondo chokes in the playoffs,” he said. “That makes me mad. Last year we were a little overconfident. (South Hills) came out and swung the bats. I don’t think I had my best stuff that day, but they came out and swung the bats.

“The year before against Millikan, we made one key error that opened the door for them. If you make one error in the playoffs, that can be it. There’s no tomorrow, no second chance.”

Davison and Redondo will have to wait until May 20 for redemption, when the 4-A playoffs start. Next week, the Sea Hawks will try to win their fourth straight league title in the Davison era in a two-game series with El Segundo. The teams are tied for first place in the Pioneer League, both with 7-0 records.

“I’m getting pumped up for that,” Davison said.

With so much at stake in the next few weeks, Davison says he is trying to keep college and the draft out of his mind. He is putting his future on hold until after the season.

“I want to win CIF,” he said. “Coach Jenkins has never won a CIF title. I’d like to see that happen for him and for everybody on the team.”

BASEBALL AND SCOTT DAVISON

First-team all-Bay League selection, 1985; Bay League Player of the Year, 1986; Pioneer League Player of the Year, 1987.

All-Southern Section selection, 1986 & 1987.

Southern Section 3-A co-Player of the Year, 1987.

Member of Mary Star’s Connie Mack World Series championship team, summer 1987

Holds Southern Section single-season (58) and career (136) records for runs batted in.

Ranks second in Southern Section career pitching wins (42).

Ranks second in Southern Section career hits (137). Needs four to set record.

Ranks sixth in Southern Section career runs scored (106).

Ranks sixth in Southern Section career strikeouts (443).

Tied for ninth in Southern Section career home runs (20).


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