Editor’s note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports.
Today’s list: The top 10 Tucson high school baseball pitchers of all-time.
Vernon Davis was surely Tucson’s prep athlete of the 1960s, a football, baseball and track star of the highest level, who signed a letter of intent to play football for the powerful Nebraska Cornhuskers in 1969.
The Tucson High School sprinter/pitcher/tailback might’ve been at his best at baseball. In 1969, he was the state pitcher of the year, 10-2 with an 0.25 ERA, allowing just two earned runs while striking out 116. In his Badger pitching career, he was 22-6 and was twice the Star’s Player of the Year.
“He’s another Bob Gibson,’’ said THS coach Ray Adkins. “He throws BBs. He’s going to make it in the big leagues as a pitcher or an outfielder if he doesn’t get hurt playing football.’’
Davis got hurt playing football. After voiding his letter-of-intent to Nebraska, he enrolled at Arizona but never again played at his top form.
Selecting a Top 10 list of high school pitchers from Tucson is possibly the most difficult of all the Top 10 lists we’ve published. From 1939-48, as THS won nine state baseball titles, the Badgers had what seemed to be a never-ending surplus of big game pitchers: Eddie Jacome, Brad Tolson, Joe Valenzuela and on and on.
But few kept or published high school baseball statistics in the 1940s, so the impact of what those young pitchers accomplished is somewhat lost in time.
Those of the last 60 years, however, have the numbers to back up their historic performances. Here is our top 10 list: