#TBT: Davis' bunt spoiled Schilling's perfecto

Former Padres catcher has no regrets on memorable hit in 2001

#TBT: Davis' bunt spoiled Schilling's perfecto

PHILADELPHIA -- People still ask Ben Davis about "The Bunt."

It has been 15 years since Davis bunted for a hit against Curt Schilling with one out in the eighth inning on May 26, 2001, spoiling the pitcher's bid at a perfect game against the Padres at Qualcomm Stadium. The bunt infuriated the D-backs because they claimed it broke one of baseball's unwritten rules. Davis disagreed. He bunted because Arizona had only a two-run lead, and by reaching base, he brought the tying run to the plate.

"It's crazy how many people still bring it up," Davis said Wednesday. "They ask what I was thinking. They want to know if I'd do it over again. It's not the thing you want to be remembered for, but I guess it's better to be remembered for something than for nothing."

Davis chuckled. First things first, he would bunt again.

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"I would definitely try," Davis said. "After the game, I said, 'Did you happen to see my first two at-bats [a groundout and a strikeout]?' [Schilling] was that good that night. It was a joke. He could do whatever he wanted to do out there. His stuff was that good. That night, the odds weren't in my favor, and I knew I had to try to get on somehow. It was a hanging breaking ball. [Arizona second baseman] Jay Bell was in shallow right field. He was way out there. I thought, 'Well, if I can just bring one with me and put it in that Bermuda's Triangle, maybe I can get on somehow.'

"It was a two-run ballgame and Bubba Trammell hit after me. He had 25 home runs that year. If it was 10-0, I never would have bunted, but it was a two-run game."

The inning ended without the Padres scoring a run. Davis still remembers returning to the dugout to put his catcher's gear back on and trotting behind home plate to catch Adam Eaton's warmup pitches in the top of the ninth. He definitely remembers D-backs manager Bob Brenly and others screaming at him at the top of their lungs, repeatedly questioning Davis' manhood.

"I'm like, 'Why are they so mad at me? What did I do?'" Davis said. "I had no idea. I didn't think it was that big of a deal."

Following the top of the ninth, Davis returned to San Diego's dugout. He took a seat next to Tony Gwynn.

"T," Davis said. "Did I do something wrong?"

"Man," Gwynn said. "Forget those guys. You did nothing wrong."

Davis felt better after talking to the future Hall of Famer. Padres manager Bruce Bochy stuck up for Davis in postgame interviews.

"Brenly still holds a grudge," said Davis, who is in his second season in the Phillies' broadcast booth. "He talks about it all the time. We were doing a game last year and [Comcast SportsNet producer] Jeff Halikman said, 'Hey, you're on their TV.' I think Brenly brought it up again duing their broadcast. Their cameras shot into our booth."

Sit down with Ben Davis

Davis has not talked to Schilling since the play, although they faced each other again. In fact, San Diego went to Phoenix the following week and Davis singled to center field in the second inning and doubled in the fourth inning against him.

Davis remembers the 32,234 fans booing him the first couple times he walked to the plate.

"I thought, 'Man, that's a pretty cool feeling,'" Davis said. "To have that many people boo you means you did something."

Of course, if Davis bunted on Schilling today, he probably would have had to deactivate his Twitter account to avoid the trolls. Anybody and everybody with a hot take would have been talking about him on TV and radio.

Somebody probably would have made a meme out of it.

"I don't think there was any social media back then," Davis said. "There was 'SportsCenter' and that was it. It garnered some national attention. Some reporters came up to me a couple weeks later. But in my mind, it was buried. Family and friends back in Philly didn't say much about it. Obviously some people agreed with it and some people disagreed with it. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. But it is weird to hear people still talk about it to this day.

"People will say, 'You're the guy that broke up Schilling's no-hitter.' I correct them. I say, 'It wasn't a no-hitter. It was a perfect game.' It was a bit more than a no-hitter. There are only a handful of people that have ever been perfect."

Schilling wasn't perfect that day, and Davis wouldn't change a thing about it.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.