Jacke Davis, who had an eight-year professional baseball career before coaching high school and college baseball in his hometown of Carthage for nearly three decades, died on Sunday.

He was 85.

Davis was signed as an amateur free agent out of Baylor University at the age of 22, and played professional baseball for eight seasons — including part of one Major League Baseball season with the Philadelphia Phillies.

After his playing career ended, he returned to Carthage and became head coach at Carthage High School. He spent nine seasons there, and then became head coach at Panola College.

“He was a good man with a great heart,” Don Clinton, current Vice President of Student Services at Panola College said. “He has been part of my life as a next door neighbor, and I grew up playing in his yard with his boys. He was my high school coach for two years, then my college coach for two years. He got me a scholarship to Louisiana Tech, then offered me a job at Panola 33 years ago and became my boss and great friend. I love him and the Davis family dearly.”

Davis made his professional debut with the Class B High Point-Thomasville Hi-Toms in 1958. He played at Class A Williamsport and Triple A Buffalo before being called up to the Major Leagues with the Phillies in 1962.

In 48 games with Philadelphia, he hit .213 with nine runs scored, six RBI and one home run — hit off Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After playing one season in the Majors, Davis returned to the minor leagues and played until 1964.

When his playing career ended, he returned to Carthage and spent nine seasons as the Bulldogs’ head baseball coach — earning district Coach of the Year honors four times and leading Carthage to seven Zone titles and two outright district championships.

He became head coach at Panola, and spent 15 seasons there (1982-1996), compiling a record of 501-292 with eight conference championships and nine appearances in the NJCAA regional playoffs.

Davis was named conference Coach of the Year eight times, had 38 players take in the MLB Draft, had 118 players sign with for-year schools and produced seven NJCAA All-Americans, three NJCAA Academic All-Americans and five players who played Major League Baseball.

He was elected to the Panola College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.

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Follow Jack Stallard on Twitter: @lnjsports

Sports editor

I've covered sports in East Texas since 1987, starting as a 21-year-old sports editor at the Kilgore News Herald before spending seven years at the Lufkin Daily News and the past 23 years at the Longview News-Journal.