The track and field world lost a great contributor to the sport on August 18, 2010. Scott Davis, a long-time track and field announcer, passed away in his home in Cerritos, CA at the age of sixty-six. He’d been battling cancer for several years and with his compromised immune system picked up an infection, which would lead to his death, while announcing at what would be his final track meet – the IAAF Junior World Championships in Moncton, Canada.
You may not have known what Scott Davis looked like, but if you’ve ever been to a big track and field meet you’ve probably heard his voice. His track and field announcing most likely enhanced your understanding and enjoyment of the meet. He provided pre-race statistics and background information so you knew what to look for and he called attention to the field events that were taking place concurrently. “I never met him, but I think of his voice as the voice of track and field,” said frequent track and field meet attendee, Malinda Walker.
Lloyd Stephens often “spotted” the distance races for Davis. That meant Stephens kept Davis abreast of which runners were in which place during the races. Stephens spotted for Davis at the 2010 NCAA Championships, USA Championships, and Prefontaine Classic – Davis’ last three domestic meets. Stephens recalled how Davis, “got excited about the races and he got the crowd excited, too.” One of his favorite expressions after a great performance was, “Oh my!” “He really could communicate his enthusiasm with his inflection,” said Stephens. Davis was known to keep everyone in the announcing booth laughing, cracking jokes off-mike between events.
At last June’s NCAA Championships the Oregonlive.com website had a nice write-up about Davis because it was the thirtieth NCAA Championship (Indoor and Outdoor) that he’d announced. Davis recounted a memory from the 1988 NCAA Championship Meet involving Oregon State’s Karl Van Calcar. Van Calcar was the last Oregon State athlete to compete at the meet and because he won the steeplechase, and because Oregon State had already announced they were dropping their track and field program after the 1988 season, Van Calcar would be the final Oregon State NCAA Champion. Van Calcar was leaving the track but Davis pointed him out to the crowd and got him to take a victory lap. Davis’ understanding of the significance of this moment is just one example of the insight that he brought to the track meets that he announced.
A few weeks after the Oregonlive.com story, at the USA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, USATF interviewed Davis about track announcing:
In addition to announcing major track meets in both the United States and abroad, Davis was the long-time meet director for the Mt. Sac Relays. He also worked at his alma mater, UCLA, as announcer at UCLA home track and field meets for twenty-eight years and as part of the stats crew during football games held in the Rose Bowl. His love of statistics led him to co-found the Federation of American Statisticians of Track (FAST) in 1983, and to serve as the Secretary General of the Association of Track and Field Statisticians (ATFS) since 1994.
I had the good fortune to work with Davis when I was the UCLA team manager. As manager one of my jobs was to know the up to the minute meet score, which meant I needed to know both running and field event results for men and women. Anytime I missed something or was unsure about a result, I ran up to the announcers booth and Davis let me look at the official results sheet. The meets were often close. “Thinking” so and so got third in the discus wasn’t good enough, I had to know who got third. Thanks to Davis’ result sheets I was able to report back to coaches Bob Larsen, Bobby Kersee, and Jeanette Bolden with accurate team scores so they could make appropriate line-up decisions for the final events of the meet. It was a high pressure job but I loved it. I wouldn’t have been able to do it accurately without Davis’ help.
The respect and appreciation that legions of track fans have for Davis has been exemplified in the numerous write-ups about him since his death. Meb Kelfezighi shared his memories with LetsRun.com, the IAAF issued a press release, the Eugene Register Guard wrote a nice article, and the Orange County Register also ran a story.
I’m going to miss hearing Davis’ familiar voice the next time I’m at the Prefontaine Classic or the USA Championships. I’ll miss the anecdotes and information that he skillfully provided to the spectators, building up each event’s excitement and drama. But, I bet he’ll be looking down and taking in the meet, with the best seat in the house, just waiting for a great performance so he can exclaim, “Oh my!” Thanks for calling all those track meets, Scott. Rest in peace.