As the story goes, Steve Fjeldsted, the director of the South Pasadena Public Library, recently caught up with Mark Langill, a Los Angeles Dodgers’ executive who lives in town, and the two were talking about Vin Scully’s successor, Joe Davis.
An inquisitive Fjeldsted, telling Langill that Davis was upcoming guest speaker in the library’s community room, wanted to know “what kind of guy is he,” recognizing that both were employed by the Dodgers.
“Steve, I don’t know, I’ve never met the guy,” said a laughing Langill, recalling the conversation earlier on Monday as he introduced Davis at the library event, which was packed, many in the crowd wearing Dodger Blue. The comment drew laughter as many assumed that Langill, the Dodgers’ historian, and Davis, the club’s new play-by-play commentator, would have met at least once over the course of the 2017 regular season and dramatic postseason, which brought the Dodgers to the doorstep of a world championship.
Fjeldsted may have figured the two would have even met somewhere in city along the way since Davis is a new resident of South Pasadena and Langill has lived in the city all his life.
“Despite the fact that I work there [Dodger Stadium] and Joe is the broadcaster, we have totally different schedules,” Langill explained, noting that he’s an early riser and reports for duty at the stadium from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., while Davis arrives for the start of his workday usually between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. for a 7:10 p.m. start, and doesn’t leave the ballpark until well after the final out.
“We’re like two ships passing in the night,” Langill pointed out, noting that much of his late afternoons in recent years have been occupied by taking care of his 81-year-old mother, a diehard Dodger fan herself, who watches many of the games on TV, rooting the hardest for her favorite player, Yasiel Puig. Dinner, which he helps prepare, comes early, around 4 or 5 O’Clock.
Langill met Davis face-to-face on Monday just minutes before the Dodgers’ new play-by-play announcer answered questions from Houston Mitchell, an L.A. Times assistant sports editor and writer of the Dodgers’ Dugout newsletter. It was a treat for those on hand at the event dubbed “Baseball Night with Joe Davis.” Occupying seats near the front were Davis’s parents, Paul and Laurie, who flew in from their home in Michigan to be with their son, who has climbed quickly through the broadcasting ranks, working three years as the radio voice of the Montgomery Biscuits, a Tampa Bay Rays Double A club in Alabama, before locking down the Dodger job. Seemingly, a natural, Davis also calls college football and basketball, and NFL football for Fox Sports.
Now that he is with the Dodgers, Mitchell did a little calculating before Monday’s Q&A at the library, telling Davis, “I did some figuring before tonight, and realized that if you broadcast as long as Vin Scully, your final year will be 2083.” The comment prompted a roar of laughter.
As early as 2014, Langill saw the workings of the Dodgers’ future when talk of succeeding Scully began. “I could see how this was going to play out,” recalled Langill, explaining that Davis was hired to call road games in 2015 and eventually would become the guy who would take over over for Scully, who weaved Dodger lore in the booth for 67 years.
“I can’t think of any person who could have handled it any better with the transition,” said Langil about Davis, who referred to the young 30-year-old Michigan native as “warming up in the bullpen” while the departing Scully was receiving a tremendous amount of fanfare during and especially at the end of his final season in 2016. “At the time [of Scully’s retirement] it was seamless in my opinion. Just like [Dodger ace pitcher] Clayton Kershaw, he was ready to go.”
Davis, in taking over for a legend, says succeeding Scully will forever be a “pinch me” moment, thinking back on how far he’s come since the days he called baseball and basketball games while attending Beloit College in Wisconsin.
“How great that we have a broadcaster who is so enjoyable, so knowledgeable and so prepared,” praised Langill of Davis, who shares the Dodgers’ broadcast booth with Orel Hershiser, a Cy Young Award winner and the MVP in the 1988 World Series, among his many accolades in an extraordinary 18-year career.
Of course, Mitchell wasted little time in asking Davis what it was like to become the voice of the Dodgers and what he has learned from Scully, who had the longest tenure of any broadcaster with a single team in professional sports history.
Davis made it clear that no one is ever going to replace the best in the business. “The advice that I’ve gotten from him are a couple of things,” he noted. “First is to be yourself. If you’re trying to be something that you’re not, you’re going to get exposed over a long baseball season. The next is when the big moments are happening, be calm. Take a deep breath. Naturally, when 50,000 people are going crazy, your heart rate is going to jump. It’s what we live for as broadcasters, but you have to be cool in those moments.”
Away from the broadcast booth, Davis says he, his wife and 18-month old daughter, enjoy living in South Pasadena, which reminds the couple of the Midwest. During his conversation with Mitchell, Davis talked about the city’s tree-lined streets, friendly neighbors and easy 15-minute commute to work at Dodger Stadium.
“It feels like home,” he said. “We love it.”