After spending time in the studio for four years, Ben Davis makes the jump to Phillies color commentator.
After talking with Ben Davis ‘95 for a brief period of time, it is easy to tell the two things he loves most – his family and baseball. It’s clear he was “ecstatic” when he was offered the job many sports fans dream about.
“Nobody loves baseball more than me,” said Davis. “I could watch it all day long. You know how some people can do that on a Sunday with every football game all day long? I can’t do that with football. I’ll watch the Eagles and that’s it. But baseball? I’ll watch it all day long. I love talking baseball.”
Davis retired from professional baseball in 2010 after playing for the San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, and Chicago White Sox. “I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t have a college degree. I wanted to still talk about baseball and wanted to see if I could get on camera.”
Davis talked to longtime Temple Owls coach Fran Dunphy, Malvern class of 1966, and Comcast Sports’ Neil Hartman, who got him interviews at Comcast Sportsnet. “I did an audition and trial run. They liked what they saw and I had fun doing it.” Davis began to work as an analyst at CSN and eventually became a co-host of the Phillies pre and post game shows.
In addition to working at CSN at night, Davis worked at 94 WIP, on the WIP Morning Show with Angelo Cataldi. “[When you’re a radio host] you gotta know about all four sports and world events. They’ll talk about anything at any time,” said Davis.
While working these two jobs, Davis also worked for Comcast Spectacor arranging events in the premium suites at the Wells Fargo Center. These jobs consumed a lot of Davis’s time. “If I had a pre and post game [show], I would be in by nine in the morning and wouldn’t be getting home til 11:30,” said Davis.
“There were a lot of things my wife and I wanted to do over the past four years, we just haven’t had the chance because of my schedule,” said Davis. However, as the Phillies commentator Davis’s schedule has now been cleared up. He no longer works in the winter and this season he is commentating 81 of the 162 games (75 on TV, 6 on radio).
Davis and his wife have four kids, ages 9, 7, 6, and 8 months. Davis now is attending more of his oldest son’s baseball games and gets to be more active in their lives while home. “It’s a little bit more rewarding,” said Davis.
Road trips can be tough on him and his family, though. “I miss them and they miss me,” he said. Davis FaceTimes his family to keep in touch while he is away. He is grateful for his wife who “is on her toes all day long,” supporting their children.
Even with all the changes to his life the new job has brought, Davis loves it. His typical work day for a 7 PM game begins with a morning workout, lunch, a shower and shave. He then arrives at the stadium in time for Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg’s 4PM talk in the dugout. During batting practice Davis will try to talk to whomever is available, players or coaches. For example, while in Miami recently, Davis spent time talking to former teammate Ichiro Suzuki.
After batting practice, Davis goes up to the booth where he reads scouting reports, eats dinner with his partners, then films the opener that is played at the beginning of the broadcast at 6:05. Leading up to 7, Davis preps any notes or statistics that could prove useful during the game.
During the game broadcast, Davis likes to keep the conversation natural. He initiates conversation from his observations and the flow of the game. He is passionate, knowledgeable, and ready to discuss any topic, whether it be the average of a batter when he has two strikes on him, the way a hitter holds his bat, or how the grain of the bat can make a bat “better.”
The experience has been “a smooth transition” for Davis. He understands he will continue to get better as he works more. He looks forward to working more with “great guys” such as Tom McCarthy, Matt Stairs, Gregg Murphy, Mike Schmidt, and all the producers and assistants.
Davis was a star athlete at Malvern thriving in baseball and basketball. During his senior year Davis had a batting average of 514 and was named the 1995 USA Today All USA High School Baseball Player of the Year. He was drafted in the first round, number two overall to the San Diego Padres and signed a contract $1.3 million signing bonus.
Besides the national recognition for baseball, Davis was also named Inter-Ac MVP for basketball in his senior season. He notably competed on the court against Lower Merion’s Kobe Bryant
At a high point of his career, Davis is still gracious and appreciative of his time at Malvern. “Honestly, it would be a sin to single out one teacher. Every teacher I had was phenomenal,” said Davis. “They made impressions on me though the way they taught and through the things I learned,” said Davis. “They weren’t teaching just to teach. They wanted us to learn.”
One of the only classes in which Davis earned a B was Mr. McGuire’s class. “I enjoyed his class tremendously. It was tough for me because he was so detail oriented, but it helped me learn more,” he said.
Although he might not have given him an A, Mr. McGuire had nothing but praise for Davis. McGuire remembered Davis as “a meticulous student with excellent handwriting,” and described Davis’s character as “top notch.”
“His faith is very strong and [he] has a great heart. Baseball is his passion but it was never a case of ‘I’m gonna do this at all costs and step on people.’ He is just such a solid person,” said McGuire.
On a recent trip to New York for a road series, it finally hit Davis. The team stayed at the New York Palace. “I got my hotel key and entered my room and it was just beautiful,” said Davis. “I dropped my bags down and looked up and said ‘Dear Lord, please help me to never lose this job.’”
Catch Ben on the Phillies broadcasts on Comcast Sportsnet or NBC10 and on the radio on 94 WIP.