He arrives at Hunter Wright Stadium dressed in blue and orange, driving a Kia with tags that read KMETS. Armed with rosters, records and the latest stats, he greets everyone he sees. Ready to keep track of each and every pitch, hit, error and run-batted-in, he isn’t the official scorekeeper of the Kingsport Mets, but rather a 13-year season ticket holder, who has to be the team’s most dedicated fan.
"The minor league baseball season in Kingsport is the one thing I look forward to every year, it’s more than a hobby, it’s my number one passion in life," Mark Davis said.
Davis attended the 1995 inauguration of Hunter Wright Stadium, but it wasn’t until his dad brought him back to the park five years later that he fell in love the game.
"I was 15 and once we entered the ballpark and sat down, I just took in the atmosphere and was hooked," Davis recalled.
It was his dad who also introduced him to the art of scorekeeping.
"l like math and numbers and it just really clicked with me," the King College grad said. "I literally keep track of every single possible statistic I can and watch the game at the same time. I’ve had news reporters, fans even ballplayers ask me about stats, so it seems I’m relied on for that," he said with a smile.
The records the 28-year old keeps are mind-numbing, meticulous and sophisticated. He carries a clipboard containing an individualized, customized scorebook that he makes. He tallies pitches, can calculate a player’s batting average at any point, in any game, and keeps score for both the K-Mets and their opponent.
"If you find something you like, can take it to the next level and get a lot of enjoyment out of it, then it’s all worth it," Davis beamed.
After each game, Davis tabulates everything into his computer. He’s created spreadsheets for every single game, home and away, since 2000, storing them by year in binders he ingeniously designed, leaving nothing out: box scores, attendance, weather, game notes, even news articles.
At the end of each season, he generates recaps based on where the Mets finish from a league standpoint, including where they finished in doubles, total team strike outs, saves, total RBI’s, fewest team strikeouts and well, you get the drift. If it has a number value, Davis tracks it. Team versus team records, schedules, individual scores and where the team falls within the division are just a few of the percentages, averages and totals Davis preserves.
He’s visited every Appalachian League stadium and generally goes to 50 games of the 68 game season. On July 24, he attended his 475th game and could hit his 500th before the end of summer.
"It’s not really a goal of mine, but it would sure be a milestone," Davis said optimistically.
He’s been to the New York Mets' spring training facility in Florida and recently attended a Mets/Nationals game in D.C., but he never got to Shea Stadium and has yet to see a game at Citi Field in New York.
"I’m definitely a New York Mets fan. With four previous K-Mets players currently active on the New York team, it’s been fun to follow their careers and all of the former K-Mets players who made it to the big leagues," said Davis. And yeah, he keeps stats on those players too.
Davis went on what he calls his ‘Hunter Wright Sign initiative’ convincing Mayor Phillips to erect a sign on Stone Drive directing people to the stadium. He tweets live game updates each inning from @kmetsfan to his followers, including a player’s family in California. And, as Dobyns-Bennett High School’s Technology Coordinator even his day job is numbers related.
"I am responsible for a network of 1,200 computers and provide technical support for the faculty, staff and 1,800 students. I always say, if it is plugged into a wall, then it’s got my name on it," Davis remarked.
Two K-Mets games are standouts for Davis. The first was a 10-run bottom of the ninth, come-from-behind win, which he had ESPN confirm as the biggest come from behind victory of any professional baseball team in history of the sport. The second occurred last August, before the final game of the season, an away game at Bristol, when the entire Kingsport Mets team, manager and coaching staff came up to him and his father, shook their hands and personally thanked them for all their years of support.
"To do that in front of everybody was a humbling experience, it came out of nowhere and was truly amazing," Davis fondly recalls.
The one thing Davis wants to be a part of is a championship season. The last one the K-Mets had was in 1995 and, whether he witnesses that or not, Mark Davis will always be a champion in our (score) book.comments powered by Disqus