O.K. "Buddy" Davis
O.K. "Buddy" Davis never donned a Louisiana Tech uniform.
He never scored a touchdown, made a tackle, swung a bat or pulled down a rebound. Nor did he sprint out of the blocks, spike a ball, drive one down the fairway, serve up an ace or head a ball into a goal.
But that didn't stop him from being one of the most important figures in Louisiana Tech Athletics history.
His tools were his golden pen and press pass.
But the work he's done with those tools is way more than enough to earn his induction into the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame. Davis will join Bill Galloway, Walter Johnson, April Malveo and George Stone as the Class of 2013 in an induction ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Waggonner Room of the Thomas Assembly Center. The event is open to the public.
Louisiana Tech Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations Malcolm Butler probably best summed up Davis' meaning to the University's sports programs.
"Buddy Davis has written more words about Louisiana Tech athletics than anyone in the history of the University," Butler said. "His name is synonymous with the Bulldogs and the Lady Techsters, and we can never put a price tag on what he means to our athletic department. He has been a part of so many of our historical milestones during the 49 years he has worked for the Ruston Daily Leader. He has written about Hall of Famers such as Karl Malone, Terry Bradshaw, Leon Barmore, Fred Dean, Teresa Weatherspoon, Willie Roaf and many more.
"He is a walking, talking, breathing history of the past five decades of Louisiana Tech Athletics. Buddy is a treasure to Lincoln Parish, our community and especially Louisiana Tech."
Davis' love of Tech came easy as he became involved with athletics at a young age.
"Dad would take me to a lot of the Tech football games," Davis said. "When I was a youngster in elementary school, we would go over and see guys like David Lee and Paul Hynes at the old stadium where the water tower is. Dad would take me particularly to afternoon games. When I was in junior high, we'd go over to Memorial Gym and watch Jackie Moreland, Joe Daigle, Jim Tullis and those guys and I would get their autographs. I loved Jackie Moreland and that was big watching him. Cecil Crowley was the head coach then.
"A little known fact is that my grandfather, C.C. Davis, was the contractor on Memorial Gymnasium. So I would go over with my grandfather and watch as they built Memorial. I can see the workers building it now -- the memories are that strong."
Davis was already working at the Ruston Daily Leader as a student at Ruston High School and kept doing so while a student at Tech before becoming Sports Editor for the Leader. Nearly 50 years worth of covering Tech athletes has not only produced countless awards but has helped Davis forge many friendships through the years.
"I've made so many close friends through covering Tech -- Coach (Jimmy) Mize, Coach (Joe) Aillet, Coach (Maxie) Lambright, Berry Hinton when he was baseball coach," Davis said. "And of course, Gravy (former Tech baseball coach Pat Patterson). And then athletes like Karl, Tommy Spinks and Terry back when they were playing. I was fortunate enough to form great friendships with those kinds of guys. (Former Tech and NFL tight end) Mike Barber was a real close friend when he played. There are just so many.
"Another little known fact is that when we lived on Evans Street in Ruston there was a Tech basketball player named Max Kimmel. He and Tommy Hinton were the best of friends. Tom Hinton would come over to his house; I got to know Tom that way, and Tom and I played many a game of checkers against each other. I've known Tom that long, since I was a little toddler. I still talk to a lot of those guys."
Davis has been witness to some of the greatest moments ever in the history of Tech athletics but admits that one stands out in particular.
"The most exciting moment I remember was the Bradshaw to (Ken) Liberto pass in 1968," Davis said. "That's without a doubt the most exciting moment involving Tech I've seen. But then you've got the back-to-back NCAA women's titles in the early '80s for the Lady Techsters when they were dominating -- that was huge. And in the Grantland Rice Bowl when Terry was a senior, he solidified his No. 1 draft status as he made an incredible play were he escaped from five or six attempted tacklers and made a touchdown throw. That really wowed the scouts. It was on an icy, cold day in Murfreesboro, Tennessee when he did that. That was one of those huge, all-time plays.
"And of course, the upset of Alabama during the (Tim) Rattay - (Sean) Cangelosi era and Tech beating Texas in the NCAA baseball regional in Arlington, Texas, where Tech nearly made it to the College World Series was amazing. But the biggest would have to be the Bradshaw to Liberto pass."
Davis has also seen Tech grow from a smaller athletics program playing in the Gulf States Conference to becoming one of the newest members of Conference USA in the midst of tremendous growth of its athletics facilities.
"Marveling at how Tech has grown and how they've done such a good job marketing the product and just the growth in the past decade has been a real neat deal," Davis said. "The past five years have been incredible, and now you've got the Paul Millsap Vision and the south end zone project in the works. The Jumbotron that Derrick Dooley helped bring in. All of that is still hard for me to believe, but it's been wonderful to watch it happen."
Hall of Fame basketball coach Leon Barmore knows just how much Davis has meant to that growth over the years.
"A lot of us would have never made any Hall of Fames without Buddy Davis -- I'm very serious about that," Barmore said. "He promoted me, Coach Hogg, the Techsters, Fred Dean, Terry Bradshaw and so many others. But especially me and the Techsters. Without Buddy and the national press and write-ups he got us, getting the story out about me, Coach Hogg and the Lady Techsters, I can't tell you how valuable that was. I just know that without Buddy, we never would have reached the stature that we did."
Davis, who has won a Distinguished Service Award from the Louisiana Sports Writers Hall of Fame and was recently named Tech's College of Liberal Arts Alumnus of the Year, admits to being shocked when he was told he was being inducted into the Tech Athletics Hall of Fame.
"Being named to something like the Tech Athletics Hall of Fame was the farthest thing from my mind," Davis said. "When I look at all the names in there, I figure, why would I be there, shoulder to shoulder with those folks like (Terry) Bradshaw, Karl (Malone), Tommy Hinton and just so many of them?
"There are so many great athletes that started their careers at Tech. I wouldn't have gotten that kind of opportunity anywhere else. I just love Tech and Ruston."
One thing Davis is especially thrilled about is being inducted alongside longtime friend George Stone.
"Being inducted with George is the best part of this whole deal," Davis said. "I love George, I grew up with him and I'm thrilled about him finally going into the Tech Hall of Fame though he struck me out every time I faced him in Little League baseball. I never could hit Stoney. I used to try to bribe him with snow cones -- `Hey Stoney, I'll buy you a snow cone or whatever you want, just slow it down.' I mean he was throwing some heat as a youngster, and I knew even then that he was destined for a great career. He was a lanky, good hard-throwing lefty. He's really a great guy, and I'm very happy for him. When I saw his name on the induction list, I told myself this couldn't have worked out any better."
Davis has recently been recovering from a stroke he suffered in July, and former Tech Athletics Director Jim Oakes said the response of Tech athletes and other sports figures shows why Davis is undoubtedly a Hall of Famer.
"Buddy is an institution," Oakes said. "Not just for our community but for Louisiana Tech, Grambling State University and athletes all across Louisiana. He's been around forever and is such a historian of Tech athletics.
"Beyond all of that, he's beloved by so many sports figures that he has covered over the years. From Archie Manning to Karl Malone to Terry Bradshaw and Dale Brown, those kinds of people have been reaching out to Buddy and checking on him because they care so much about his well-being. That to me says the most about Buddy's work as a sports writer; that the people he's covered for so many years genuinely care about his well-being."