For Gant Davis, baseball is in the blood. Or, more accurately, the name.
The Flowery Branch player, who recently signed to play baseball at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, grew up around the game.
Learning how to throw the ball at a young age, like many others, he had dreams of one day playing in the pros.
Unlike most, he had a family friend, his own namesake, to take cues from.
Davis calls him Uncle Ronny, but most baseball fans in the state know him better as former Atlanta Braves star Ron Gant.
“He’s pretty busy,” Davis said of Gant, “and I’m always playing baseball. So, I don’t really get to see him that much. But I’ve always called him Uncle Ronny.”
Gant started his professional career in Atlanta as a member of the Braves from 1987-1993. In that span, he played in two World Series’ and was selected to an All-Star game in 1991.
He also met Davis’ dad, Glen.
Glen, a baseball aficionado, said he would attend games during the 90s and, because security wasn’t too tight, would carry a briefcase filled with baseball cards, baseballs and other collectibles to have signed by the players.
Looking official, he would be able to go throughout the stadium as he pleased.
“I’ve always been the type of guy that believes if you act like you’re supposed to be somewhere, you can go pretty much wherever you want,” Glen said. “Eventually, I’d get to know the security, and they’d let me through. I met Ron that way, and he just thought it was the funniest thing in the world.”
Glen, who was able to meet a host of players and establish contacts for card shows or tickets, credited adrenaline and his love of the game for his ability to go out on a limb with the players.
“It was the adrenaline,” he said with a laugh. “And I’m just a baseball nut.”
Glen stayed close with Gant over the years. Gant and former Braves outfielder David Justice hosted his bachelor party before he got married.
His wife, Mary, joked with Gant that they would name their first son after him.
“We didn’t name him until the day we left the hospital,” Glen said. “We kept going over it, and my wife just really liked the name.”
So, ‘Gant’ stuck.
Both the name and the player.
Gant was present when Davis signed to play at Abraham Baldwin, and has been a source of some guidance over the years.
“At my signing, he told me if I ever needed anything just to call,” he said. “He’s hit with me in the cage before. He taught me a lot about bat speed and helped me with my feet. It’s kind of been a big part of my life, I guess.”
Glen Davis said that his son has been fortunate to have those kind of opportunities.
“Gant knows what it takes to get to the next level,” he said of his son. “Then he has guys beyond the next level to help him get there. He’s been very fortunate.”
“It’s pretty neat,” the younger Davis added.
And both father and son have big hopes for Flowery Branch baseball this year, individually and as a team.
Glen has expressed to his son a very lofty goal for this season.
“I really expect him to be a leader,” Glen said. “He’s a good leader. And I’ve told him I’ll be disappointed if they don’t win state. They’re that strong. They’ve got a good team top to bottom. I expect big things from those guys.”
Davis said to do that, his team would have to focus on maintaining its good play, which has seen it start out with back-to-back wins over North Hall and North Oconee. The latter was a 20-0 drubbing.
“We’ve got to stay awake,” he said. “Got to stay alive.”
And if he’s ever in doubt about how to make it to the top, he’s always got someone to call.
Uncle Ronny knows a thing or two about winning baseball games.