By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
As we have been celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Men’s Senior Baseball League by publishing stories about some of the pioneers of MSBL, we now run across an ex-professional from Detroit who continues to wear MSBL on his sleeve while impacting our future players.
51-year-old Gerald Davis now resides in Southern California, plays in the SoCal MSBL, played professionally for 11 years, and is a private hitting instructor and trainer while playing for the Orcas in the 25-over division and the Monarchs in the 45s. Gerald also remains a huge Michigan University fan!
“I really enjoy working with the kids in the cages at the Great Park Sports Complex in Irvine, which is also the home of the MSBL ‘Beat the Heat’ tourney this year,” said Davis. “I have a new clothing line coming out called ‘Pure Hitters’ (see picture below) that is based on encouraging hitters to hit to all fields and become a total hitter. That isn’t just the name on clothes but a philosophy. I have been fortunate enough in my career to discuss hitting at length with Jim Rice, Yaz, George Scott, Willie Upshaw, and my cousin Frank White, to name a few. I love sharing their ideas and techniques with the kids, high schoolers, and current players.”
Gerald is also known for his passionate community work with the kids and their parents. Teaching them baseball skills is just the tip of his extensive iceberg.
“In my training, I even have two seven-year-olds, which is rare. But I am not a baseball player who is simply a trainer. I strive to make them better people. I help people get to college and become better citizens. I’m a mentor to every young person I train. I teach them a good work ethic and show them how to be a good person and teammate and to be respectful to their parents.
They also must supply me with their grades and show they are trying to be better. I encourage them to be responsible and make sure they get vaccinated. I have helped over 50 people get vaccinated and have even driven them to get the shot. I am all about helping people. I don’t see race or color but I see people. I am a baseball player on one level but also a helper of people in the human race.”
Gerald’s professional baseball career ended in 2001 and he spent exactly one year away from baseball before finding a place to play in the Detroit MSBL. He then started playing MABL ball in St. Clair Shores, Michigan located ten miles from Detroit, after a decade in the Detroit MSBL. Gerald was inducted into the St. Clair Shores Hall of Fame in 2015.
“I started a team in St. Clair Shores in 2012 and we won the league in our first year. We then played in 2013 and 2014 and I moved to California in the middle of the 2014 season. I didn’t want to let the Michigan team down so I flew back for the Michigan games while playing in the SoCal MSBL. It was a crazy summer but I love to play and MSBL provided a lot of opportunities to do that. I continue to play between 75 and 80 games per year. My wife is a very understanding lady!”
Gerald is also an MSBL tournament veteran with an extensive pedigree in both the World Series in Arizona and the Fall Classic in Florida, as a member of the then powerhouse Atlanta Bulls.
“This is a special year at the World Series because it is the 20th anniversary of our original Detroit Dodgers team. We won it all in 2002 and even though some of us are a little bit older, most of the original players are coming to Arizona to play. We’ll be in the 45-over Mountain division this year. We ended up 46-7 back in 2002. It was a special year, for sure. That was probably the best amateur team I have ever played on.”
Gerald grew up on the Detroit sandlots and as an early bloomer caught many an eye growing up.
“I was sort of a prodigy and started out as a pitcher and had a big arm and blew everyone away. I mention that not egotistically, but because my coaches used me as often as they wanted and, in those days, they didn’t know any better. They wouldn’t do that now. Then they started me throwing curveballs, which I loved and went along with.
All of this concluded in my having rotator cuff problems at the age of 14. My doctor prescribed rest and not surgery, which I am thankful for, and after a long layoff I just threw a rock one day and it didn’t hurt. I immediately became an outfielder and never pitched again.”
As an outfielder and hitter, Gerald proved he was an all-around athlete and started getting sniffed out by local scouts.
“I was drafted by the Yankees in 1989 by the same scout who signed Derek Jeter. To this day I remain a huge Yankee fan and I see every game on satellite, whether at the time or taped. My teammates know not to tell me the score of any game in case I haven’t seen it!”
Gerald’s achievements stray pretty far from the diamond, too. He is a mini-television star!
“My family taped a ‘Family Feud’ show this past May. It will air sometime in August. Steve Harvey is quite a baseball fan. We had a great time!”
Regarding training techniques and what he has learned over the years of professional ball, I asked him if there might be one or two tips he can convey to our readers.
“Long toss. I have watched Verlander before a game as well as Clemens and Nolan Ryan. They back up to almost the foul lines to stretch out their arms, even on a game day. I added this procedure to my pre-game regimen and utilize it every game to this day.
I start tossing a football, then a weighted baseball, and then I can go a long distance with a regular baseball. This isn’t just for pitchers; the extra weight isn’t for everyone. But everyone needs to stretch out those muscles no matter who you are or what your position is. You can’t just show up at the field, play catch, and be ready.”
All of that playing did eventually catch up with Gerald and make him almost as mortal as the rest of us.
“I had tendon surgery in my ankle so I can’t roam the outfield anymore, other than an occasional stint in right field, but I can still help at third and first and also DH, which is what I do most. I work out multiple times during the week with the ‘Iron Mike’ at the cages and hit, hit, and hit. My work with the kids also helps me stay on top of the game. I’ve become the David Ortiz of the SoCal MSBL,” laughed Gerald.
Are there any funny moments from all those years in either an MSBL league or tournament? In typical fashion, it was hard for Gerald to come up with one. But he recited one year that was really strange, and also heartbreaking.
“I think it was in 2009 but in the 18-over division of the Fall Classic we lost the championship game on a passed ball. Then with the Atlanta Bulls in the same year in week two, we lost the 35-over championship on another passed ball! We were up 7-1 in the 18-over game and blew it. That was a tough year to swallow.”
Any final thoughts to share?
“I am in my 44th year of playing ball and can still feel the passion and can still hit the ball so I am blessed. I hope that I can inspire someone else either through my actions or my words. Make a commitment and stick to it. Show up to every game, regardless of the weather or if you do not feel like it. You owe it to your teammates. Put in the work, because no matter how old you are it is the same game we played when we were kids.
I am rooted in MSBL and will always be indebted to you. Thanks for the opportunity and supplying the platform for staying young.”