Ron Davies, longtime Adelphi baseball coach, program architect, dies at 85
Ron Davies was an extraordinary college athlete and an even better coach for the squash and baseball teams at Adelphi University.
The four-sport student-athlete and the architect of an Adelphi baseball program that rose to national prominence died at Southampton Hospital on Jan. 15 at age 85.
Davies, of St. James, who also shared a law practice with his son Tim in the partnership of Davies and Davies, led Adelphi to four Division II College World Series appearances.
“My dad was my father first and foremost, but he was also my coach, law partner, mentor and friend,” said Tim Davies of Miller Place. “There aren’t too many people who have the luxury of saying that about their dad. I thought I was an only son, only to witness that I shared that term of endearment with thousands of others that he coached.”
Ron Davies was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Uniondale. He graduated from Hempstead High School in 1955.
He graduated from Adelphi University with a degree in business management in 1959. At Adelphi, he starred in soccer, basketball, squash and baseball. He was named Outstanding Freshman Athlete in 1955 and MVP of the squash and baseball teams in 1958. He led the baseball team in batting average in three of his four years.
In 1959, Davies was elected to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities and to the Flambeau Honor Society. He won the Keen-Fijux Award for academic and athletic contributions to the university.
Davies earned a Bachelor of Laws (1963) and a Juris Doctor (1967) from Brooklyn Law School. While at Adelphi, he met June Aitken, who would become his wife of 64 years.
Davies coached the squash team for 15 years (1959-1974), winning eight Metropolitan titles.
“He was our freshman soccer coach in the fall season and recruited nine of us foreigners to play squash in the winter,” recalled Pablo Pick of Manhattan, who graduated as a three-sport athlete from Adelphi in 1965. “He took us to the squash courts and showed us the racket and ball and taught us the game from 'A' to 'Z.' He was able to mold and get the best out of nine foreign players from completely different cultures and ideas to win a squash championship.”
Pick added, “We were Czechoslovakian, French, Argentinian, Italian, Armenian, Ecuadorian, Somalian, and we had two Turks. And he guided us to the Metropolitan Tournament title two years in a row. He was my mentor who became one of my best friends.”
Davies was all about teamwork. He placed great emphasis on sportsmanship and mental toughness.
“He had a tremendous impact on my life,” said John Jeffrey, 69, of Manhasset, a retired partner of Deloitte & Touche, an international accounting firm. “He was so much more than a coach. He was a mentor and a guide in my life that went way beyond my college days. I’ve known him for 52 years.”
Davies was Adelphi's winningest baseball coach with a record of 845-431-1 over 38 years. In 1993 he guided the Panthers to the NCAA Division II Tournament, where they finished second. The 32-17 record set an Adelphi school mark for most wins in a season, and Davies was named NCAA Northeast Region Coach of the Year.
Davies led Adelphi to 12 Knickerbocker Conference titles, five NYCAC titles, three ECAC crowns, 33 winning seasons and 19 postseason tournaments. He had numerous players sign professional contracts, including lefthanded pitcher Joe Sambito, who had an 11-year career, mainly with the Houston Astros.
"Coach was a player's coach,” said Helmut Bohringer, who graduated in 1989 and was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers. “He was a coach who loved to talk about hitting, he would talk about visualization long before that became popular. He taught many of us to stand up for yourself in all facets of your life, whether it was in the classroom, on the ballfield or in your daily life.”
Davies was inducted into the Adelphi Hall of Fame in 1968 and the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. Additionally, the renovated clubhouse at the university's William J. Bonomo Memorial Field features a coaches' office named in his honor.
“Ron is a legend, a truly iconic figure with a storied history in the Adelphi baseball program,” said current Adelphi baseball coach Bill Ianniciello. “He was an accomplished student-athlete and coach and a gracious man. You can’t replicate what he did. Beyond his winning tradition, he is revered by generations of alumni. Ron's passion for the University, his players and the game of baseball will stand unsurpassed.”
Adelphi has established the Ron Davies Endowed Scholarship, awarded to a baseball player each year.
In addition to his son Timothy Ronald Davies, Ron Davies is survived by his wife, June Davies; and daughters Laurie Beth Davies, Nancy Eileen Laubush and Carol Davies.
A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at St. James Episcopal Church in St. James.