Like the players he assists every day as a coach for the Bowie Baysox, Butch Davis had a major league dream, too. And for parts of eight seasons stretched over 11 years, he got to realize it.
Twenty-four summers ago, Davis, now in his 10th season in the Orioles' minor league system, was drafted in the 10th round by the Kansas City Royals.
The Gulf Coast League (rookie level) player of the year in 1980, Davis made his major league debut as an outfielder with the Royals in August 1983. His debut season was solid -- 42 hits in 122 at-bats (.344 average) while playing in most of the team's final 40 games -- but he never found a starting role the following season.
Part-time roles with the Pirates (1987), Orioles (in 1988 and '89), and Rangers (1993-94) followed, but Davis never played in more than 62 games in a season, which he did in 1993 with the Rangers. He hit .245 that season, including the first inside-the-park home run ever at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The part-time playing "didn't deter me," Davis said. "I still went out and played hard, because I wanted to get back, and I knew what it took to get back."
As soon as his playing career ended, his coaching career in the Baltimore farm system began. He started as a coach with Class AAA Rochester, and two years later was managing the Orioles' rookie league team in Sarasota, Fla. The next year he was promoted to manager at low-A Delmarva.
For the past two seasons, Davis has been in Bowie, where his primary responsibilities are working with the outfielders, and helping the players with hitting and base running. Davis knows from experience how tough it is for these players to reach -- and then stay -- in the major leagues.
"What I try to relay to them is being consistent, fundamentally sound, hustling, respecting the ballgame, and enjoying yourself," Davis said. "They always say it's easy to get there, but tough to stay there. It's an adjustment period, because the [pitchers] in the major leagues are going to make adjustments against you."