EVERETT — Roving minor league baseball instructors often slip unnoticed in and out of ballparks nationwide en route to another affiliate elsewhere in the organization.
Alvin Davis has no such luck. Not only was he the answer to Wednesday’s trivia question (“Who was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1984?”), but on-field host Marshall Mackinder announced that Davis was in the Everett AquaSox dugout, forcing the famously humble “Mr. Mariner” to doff his cap to the crowd.
This week was the first trip of the season to Everett Memorial Stadium for Davis, who has been a Mariners roving instructor since 2012.
Everett is often the first stop in professional baseball for Mariners draftees taken out of college, and that makes it unique to other levels of pro ball, Davis said.
“This is a teaching level, and that’s probably the thing I like about it the most,” he said. “You have to be prepared to come in and teach and instruct, and also issue some correction here or there. Some of our guys that came from our minicamp back in February, they’ve been at it for a while and sometimes they can get off their program and off their process — and (process) is the key word for us. So you just kind of help them get back to what makes them successful.”
During his visits Davis is on the field for fielding and base-running drills, lurks near the cage during batting practice and hits fungoes along with the other coaches. He does the same at higher levels of the organization, but with less emphasis on coaching.
“There’s a saying throughout all of professional sports that at some point you have to become your own best coach,” he said. “And that doesn’t mean you’re not open to suggestion or correction or even criticism at times, but you understand that in the flow of the game you have to be able to make your own adjustments. You’ve gotta be able to make adjustments on the fly, in the middle of an at-bat for instance.”
A native and resident of Riverside, California, Davis was selected by the Mariners in the sixth round of the 1982 draft. He debuted two years later and won Rookie of the Year honors and made the All-Star team in 1984 as a first baseman.
Davis played eight seasons with the Mariners and part of another with the then-California Angels and hit .280 with 220 doubles, 160 home runs and 653 RBI for his career. He was arguably Seattle’s first bona fide major-league star and was the inaugural inductee into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame in 1997.
After retiring in 1992, Davis went back to Riverside to spend time raising his family, getting more involved in ministry at his church and coaching at the high school level before the Mariners brought him back in 2012.
His return is part of a growing trend of the organization maintaining relationships with players who made significant contributions to the franchise.
“We’re 40 years into this now, and just the legacy of the players we’ve had here lends itself to keeping guys as part of the Mariners family, and bringing back that history and that legacy,” he said. “It’s really good for the kids. I think if you ask them they really enjoy it when they have the opportunity to be around (those guys).”
A left-handed hitter who threw right, Davis was a mirror opposite of Evan White, this year’s first-round draft pick who hits right and throws left.
White made his professional debut at first base Thursday against Salem-Keizer, and Davis says the comparisons to former Mariners first baseman John Olerud “are valid.”
“(He’s) really, really smooth, excellent balance, great hand-eye coordination and he moves really well over there at first base,” Davis said. “We know he’s got that glove in his bag and can really be an exceptional defender over there.”
Thursday was Davis’s final night in Everett on the current trip, but he plans to return for another stint in August.
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