Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play voice Joe Davis on "The Rich Eisen Show." Screengrab: “The Rich Eisen Show”

Following in the footsteps of a legend is no easy task. And following in the footsteps of Vin Scully is that much harder. But as Rich Eisen put it Thursday, Joe Davis has figuratively climbed Mount Kilimanjaro on top of 15 other mountains.

Thursday, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ play-by-play voice gave some behind-the-scenes details on the “really untraditional path” he took to becoming the great Vin Scully’s successor in the broadcast booth.

“I was shocked they even knew who I was,” Davis told Eisen. “Found that out in, I don’t know, the fall of 2014. I was at ESPN at that point but had just moved to Fox. So, I was really, really young in my time at Fox. I had done maybe two or three Major League Baseball games. I’d done hundreds of minor league games but not nearly enough Major League Baseball for anyone to know who the heck I was.”

Well, the Dodgers knew who the heck Davis was.

Davis’ agent called him, telling him the Dodgers had come calling as they were looking at life beyond Scully and that his name came up. Davis sent along some of his baseball tape, not thinking much about the prospect of actually replacing Scully but just honored to have his name in the mix amongst what he perceived as several others.

While already in Los Angeles for a meeting with Fox, Davis took a chance and stopped by the Dodgers’ offices to introduce himself. He wasn’t expecting much recognition, maybe just a brief meeting. Surprisingly, he learned he was among only four serious contenders for the coveted position.

Davis thought he still had no chance.

“I’m sure this a who’s who of broadcasters, and I’ve done two games at this point,” he says. “I called my wife and told her, ‘Hey, yeah, I’m one of four people they’re considering.’ And she said, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re moving to Los Angeles.'”

It turns out his wife was right.

“I still don’t know exactly all it happened,” Davis said. “But it did.”

Surprisingly, he revealed to Eisen that he initially hesitated to accept the job. After months of negotiations, Davis’s desire to continue doing national broadcasts was the sticking point. The Dodgers, however, were set on Davis and wouldn’t accept his rejection. Lon Rosen apparently advocated for Davis, and eventually, they found a compromise that satisfied both sides’ desires.

Discussing his path to the booth with Eisen, Davis revealed a funny anecdote. The day before his hiring was officially announced, he received a call from an unknown number. He let it go to voicemail, not thinking much of it.

Imagine his surprise when, upon checking his messages, he discovered it was Vin Scully himself.

Davis wasn’t exactly off to a hot start.

“We connected the next day,” he explained. “And we didn’t have a deep relationship. He was doing just home games, and I was doing just road games that first year. And he was so in the spotlight that once he finished, he went and he chilled and was kind of away. But the time I did spend with him, I treasured. The advice I did get from him, I think about all the time.”

What advice did Davis receive from Scully?

“There were a couple of things,” Davis said. “The first one was to be yourself. That sounds simple, and it sounds easy, but you know, we get into these jobs, and we want to be like the people that preceded us, especially in that situation. I think that if I wasn’t thinking about it, I would just try to be Vin, the guy who had done this for 67 years. The greatest of all time; why wouldn’t you try to be like that guy?

“But he said, while that’s OK, you can learn from the people that you enjoy listening to, and you can take some things from them. But don’t lose yourself, and allow yourself to be yourself. So, I remind myself of that all the time, still. And then we got into a little more of the nitty-gritty play-by-play stuff. I asked him how he handled the biggest spots because, yes, he’s the greatest storyteller ever in the job, but he also nailed the big moments time after time. And that’s what sets the greatest ever apart.

“He compared it to, he said, ‘If your house’s burning down, and you’re trying to get everybody out safe, you can’t be freaking out. Your heart rate can’t be spiking. If you’re gonna save the cat from the top floor, you gotta be cool.’ And he said, ‘Think of the big moments kind of like that — you gotta be the coolest guy in the burning house.’ And an amazing part of doing Dodgers’ games, is they’ve been so good since I’ve been here, there’ve been a lot of chances to practice that.

“Because how do you get good at the big moments without the big moments happening in front of you? I’ve been so lucky to be in the chair. The lucky dude that’s having these big moments happen, to put those things that Vin taught me, in terms of nailing the big moments to practice. It’s one thing to have him tell you, but it’s another thing to actually go try.”

And the Dodgers have given Davis so many chances to do that.

[The Rich Eisen Show]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.