Glad to meet you, too

It was just four short years ago, when the Mercer County baseball team was making one of its deep runs in the 12th Region Tournament, that Wayne Davis made sure we got to know each other a little better.

I took a photo of Davis, an assistant coach for Mercer, hugging pitcher T.J. Royalty, who had pitched a brilliant game in the semifinals to help the Scotties reach the regional finals. Unfortunately, I identified Davis in the caption as Norman Davis, a former Garrard County football assistant who had died a few months before that.

Worse yet, I didn’t realize I had made a mistake until I returned to the ballpark at Somerset the next night. I still didn’t know when I walked into the Mercer dugout to visit before the game, so I was more than a little puzzled when Davis immediately stuck his right hand out.

“Hi, Wayne Davis, glad to meet you,” he said.

Huh? What’s this guy talking about? I know perfectly well who he is.

Then the entire Mercer coaching staff broke out laughing as they pointed out my error and how much fun they were having with it at Davis’ expense and mine. Davis took his share of needling from his colleagues for years to come, and he made sure I did to. Every time I saw him from that day forward — and I mean every time — he came toward me with his hand out, with a smile on his face and with that same greeting: “Hi, Wayne Davis, glad to meet you.”

I saw a copy of that photo last week, a couple of days after Davis died suddenly. It was in a baseball scrapbook that was on display at the funeral home, and Mercer coaches Jeremy Shope and Spence Chitwood shared one more laugh with me about it as they told me how much fun they had had with it over the years.

It was a mistake worth making, because it allowed me to get to know a good man just a little bit better. We knew each other before the photo ran, but it’s safe to say we would never have become as well acquainted had it not been for my momentary brain cramp.

That would have been my loss, because Davis was a man worth knowing. I knew him as a well-respected and well-liked assistant baseball coach and as a fixture at other Mercer sporting events, usually right beside wife Mary Ann, the official scorer for Mercer baseball and boys basketball games.

And in the few minutes I spent at the funeral home, I got a closer look through the photos on display of a loving husband and father and through the wide range of people in attendance at a man who impacted so many in his community, whether it was through sports or through his work with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources or as Mercer County’s emergency management director.

He is a man I’m glad I got to know and wish I had gotten to know better, and one who will be sorely missed throughout Mercer County and beyond.

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