Solid as a Rock… Davenport was the best

Published 1:24 am Tuesday, March 31, 2020

High School baseball coaches do many things preparing for a home
ball game.
     The field has to be in playing shape and marked off, the line-up cards
have to be filled out, and most importantly he wants to have the umpires
paychecks for them.
     The worst thing a coach can do is go to the umpire and tell him just before
the game, “I don’t have your check, they will have to mail them.”
     Right away you have made the umpire mad or at least you feel like that
and it may be an uphill battle all day.
      A coach who has a good pitcher likes an umpire who waits to make
the ball-strike call, waits to make sure the player is safe or out, as quick calls
many times becomes an error.
     Some players may drop the ball or may not catch it at all, and a quick call
makes the umpire look bad when they have to change a call.
     A coach likes to see two umpires coming that knows the game and works
great together.
     One of those umpires who was the best in the business was Rocky
“Earl” Davenport.
     Just like his dad Earl, Rocky became one of the greatest umpires in our state.
     You knew just what you were getting when the Rock stepped onto the field.
     The game was going to start on time, you were going to get one minute between
innings and your team was going to hustle, whether you trained them that way or not.
     If your team loafed onto the field your pitcher may only get one warm-up pitch, it
was all business with Rocky.
     He was a true professional and as for coaches, if he thought you had
an argument, he would let the coach say his peace or release some steam.
     If there was no question about the call, he would meet you down the line
and let you know where you were supposed to be.
     Davenport was fair with everyone, from Kingsport to Unaka, college or
high school when you got the Rock you got the best.
     He was on top of the rules, always reading the rule book and when he stepped
on the field he had the shiningness shoes, cleanest shirt, and best-pressed pants
ready for the game.
     His words “play ball” meant defense take the field and offense to send a batter
up to the plate ready for play.
     When the game was over, win or lose, you knew you had a fair deal.
     To be a good ump it helps if you had played baseball and Rocky was
one of the best.
     “I could catch his curveball with my bare hand,” said teammate Tim Chambers.
”Rocky always stepped up in big games and played well.
     “He was the winning pitcher in two city championship games
that we played in.”
     Rocky retired a few years ago with over 30 years as a TSSAA official. He
worked numerous tournaments in every division and several state
     A blast back at one of the best – Rocky Davenport.

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