October 16, 2007
Douglas --- Workers on the assembly line at Lark United Manufacturing, makers of cargo trailers, depend on a forklift driver who brings them almost everything from heavy axles to pieces of steel.
"It has its ups and downs," says Stanley "Bozo" Davis, known to his friends as Bozo.
He experiences a lot of them. "Off and on the forklift about 500 times a day," says Bozo, pulling a completed trailer to the yard for inspection and delivery.
"I've been driving a forklift for 37 years," says Bozo with a smile. "I've always liked it because I'm always doing something different."
Bozo is as dependable as gravity, and that dependability extends to a special place in his life.
"When I walk out there on the mound, I want to think I can beat any team I face," says Bozo while sitting in the baseball dugout at an almost forgotten field in Broxton, a few miles north of Douglas.
History supports his winning attitude. "I have around 730 wins and almost 200 losses lifetime," says Bozo with obvious pride.
A self-taught pitcher who can throw a baseball 70 miles per hour through the strike zone. "I'm faster than people think I am," says Bozo.
He plays in the Georgia State League, a group of semi-pro teams, with players old enough to be his grandchildren.
He's 73 years old. "I feel young," says Bozo. "I threw a no-hitter when I was 70."
"He drinks from the fountain of youth before he gets on that mound," says Mike Altis, an outfielder for the Effingham County Cyclones.
"Everybody thinks it's going to be a piece of cake hitting off him. He strikes a bunch of us out," says Joey Pittman, the Cyclones pitcher.
"His fast ball is right there," adds Mike, pointing to an imaginary strike zone.
Bozo credits six decades of exercise and clean living for his longevity. "I never drank, never smoked, never drank a cup of coffee and certainly no drugs," says Bozo.
His talent got him noticed by a major league team in the 50s. He played for a Cincinnati Reds farm team, pitched all spring practice, and on opening night of the season, he walked away from one love and went to another.
"I honestly had no idea that's what he had done," says Mamie Tarrant, the woman he left baseball for. "I'm sorry that he did that."
He intended to marry her, but Mamie's parents forced her to give up on Bozo. "At 14 you do what your parents dictate to you," says Mamie.
"Her mother didn't cater to me to much," says Bozo who was 18 and heart broken.
So, despondent about the rejection that he lost interest in baseball for almost 11 years. Baseball could rot as far as he was concerned.
He emotionally recovered when asked to join a team in 1962. It needed a pitcher who could beat a rival team from Fitzgerald. Bozo filled their need, not once, but four times while beating his romantic disappointment.
"You are no better than the team behind you and the team is no better that what you are," says Bozo.
He would pitch 55 more years with a question that lingers like his curve ball. "You always wonder: ‘Well, if I could have made it'," ponders Bozo, more than a half- century later.
His Douglas Braves team didn't make it through their championship series this year, losing to the Effingham County Cyclones, but Bozo knows the excitement of the game keeps him wound up.
"I'll pitch until I can't be a winner," says Bozo when asked about retirement.
A winner who left baseball for a while, but baseball never left him.
Bozo and Mamie married other people, had their own families and later divorced their spouses. They remain good friends.