05/29/09 — Davis did not give up dream

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Davis did not give up dream

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on May 29, 2009 1:46 PM

Bobby Davis never saw the curveball coming and felt his two-year dream seemed far from reality.

In 2008, Davis began organizing a Men's Senior Baseball League 18U team for players in the Wayne County area. His efforts proved futile when the age limit was raised to 21 years.

"We were under the understanding that it was going to be an 18-plus league and we had practiced for about five or six months," said Davis. "When we went to a meeting in December, 21-plus was all they could knock it down to (age-wise). We've got a lot of the guys back from last year."

Davis didn't give up.

Instead, he turned his focus to the 2009 season and evaluated nearly 60 players when practice began last June. Davis whittled his current roster to 24 players and each signed a three-year contract.

The dream came true April 19.

Davis and his Carolina Dodgers squad hit the diamond for a road contest against the Raleigh Red Sox. Although the outing resulted in a loss, Davis couldn't have been more happier to see months of diligent work pay off.

"I knew there were going to be jitters for the first game," said Davis, a 15-year coaching veteran. "We're 1-3 right now but I haven't seen anyone we can't beat. It's a learning process."

Carolina participates in the 21-plus Division of the MSBL. The league started in 1986 and offers divisions for players ages 18- to 70-years old. The membership has grown to more than 50,000 players in less than three decades.

Davis said local businesses have provided financial assistance, but a large portion of the team's expenses come out of the players' pockets. The Dodgers paid a $3,500 fee that includes baseballs, a refundable $200 forfeit fee, a fee for the team's Webpage, equipment and payment for umpires.

Despite the out-of-pocket expense, the players have shown a commitment and dedication to the team. They practice three times a week, play once a week (usually on Sundays) and compete against other teams in eastern North Carolina.

The Dodgers play their home games at Rosewood. Contests last nine innings with a three-hour time limit.

"The main thing I want with the guys this year is focus and the want to be out there," said Davis. "A lot of guys are forced to softball because that's all they have. These guys have realized they can play baseball again in a very professional atmosphere.

"The guys have taken it very seriously and they all want to be out there."

Carolina's roster is comprised of former high school players from Wayne County and several military personnel from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Davis first-year goal is to develop a team the community can support which he hopes will lead to on-field success.

"Our first-year goal is to make the playoffs," said Davis. "We've got 16 games to go and everyone on the team talks about how solid we are. I knew we were going to be exceptional defensively and we've had good hitting in every single game."

For more information on the team, visit www.CarolinaDodgers.com.