Every man marks certain milestones in his life. For Mark Davidson, there were the celebrated births of his daughter and son, as well as their development into outstanding college athletes. Davidson also was the fourth outfielder on the 1987 World Series-champion Twins.
Come May, he will earn a bachelor of arts degree at age 57 from Clemson.
After leaving Clemson for professional baseball 35 years ago, Davidson has returned to complete 30 hours necessary for a degree under the athletic department's Tiger Trust Program that provides scholarship money to former athletes. He is serving as a student-assistant coach, meaning he can be hands-on in tutoring one of the nation's top college shortstops, his sophomore son Logan.
"A neat opportunity," said Davidson, who lives with his wife Linda at Lake Keowee, S.C., outside Clemson. "What do they call that, a bucket list? It's always been out there."
Davidson went so far about a decade ago to gather his college transcripts with the idea of returning to school. But the responsibilities of marriage and raising children while working full-time always seemed to get in the way.
Then Monte Lee, Clemson's head coach called with an offer.
"My first reaction was, 'Monte, I'm too old for that,' " Davidson said. "But it's been, so far, one of the best experiences of my life."
Davidson, mind you, has lived a life full of great experiences. His six-year major league career included stints with the Twins and Astros. After baseball, he worked over two decades in the Charlotte, N.C., area, first in construction, then in graphic arts. His daughter Taylor was a standout tennis player at Stanford, where she earned national rankings and was a member of an NCAA championship team. Logan was a second-team freshman All-American a season ago.
"He's darned sure better than I was at his age," Davidson said of his son.
Davidson stayed home to play for the newly formed UNC Charlotte baseball program during the 1979 and 1980 seasons. Seeking a better chance to showcase his talents, Davidson transferred to Clemson where he redshirted one season.
"I think I had some tools, but I didn't know how to play," Davidson says.
During his one season at Clemson, he batted .336 with eight home runs and 50 RBIs while leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in runs scored (58) and hits (72). It was enough to catch the eye of professional scouts, and Davidson was selected by Minnesota in the 11th round of the 1982 draft.
Five years later, he was playing on a World Series-winning team as a 26-year-old big league rookie. The righthanded-hitting Davidson played mostly against lefthanders that season and as a fill-in for outfielders Tom Brunansky, Dan Gladden and Kirby Puckett.
Davidson flied out to deep center field in his only World Series at-bat but joined in the celebration when the Twins defeated the Cardinals in seven games. He keeps his World Series ring in a safe, wearing it only on special occasions.
He said he will wear it in Omaha should he, his son Logan and Clemson reach the College World Series this season.