RIVERSIDE, Calif.—David Finley has visited and played on his fair share of baseball diamonds. However, the one he played on at UC Riverside is still his favorite.
"When I played at Riverside, our field was on campus. I've been on a million fields since then and our field is by far the best one I've ever played on," Finley said. "When I think of UC Riverside, I think about taking ground balls, taking batting practice and being able to see all of the palm trees and mountains in the distance."
In Finley's two seasons at UCR, he posted a career batting average of .373. In 1986, he led the team with a .413 average that still stands as the sixth-highest single-season batting average in Highlanders history. Those electric numbers not only got him drafted in the 27th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft in 1987, but helped him become one of the 2018 UC Riverside Athletics Hall of Fame inductees.
While Finley will not be able to attend the ceremony on Friday due to his eldest daughter's wedding, he's in a class that will include Fred Morawczski (football), Larry Cunningham (basketball), Melissa Sanchez (softball), and the 1982 baseball team.
His love of baseball continued to grow after playing at UCR and two years of minor league baseball within the A's organization. Once his professional career ended, Finley became a scout, first working in the Padres organization as an area scout from 1991-'94 and then for the Marlins from 1995-'01. He spent 13 seasons in the Red Sox organization and rose to become Boston's Director of Player Personnel. He was named Red Sox Scout of the Year in 2007.
Currently in his fourth season as the vice president of amateur and international scouting for the Los Angeles Dodgers, he travels the country and the world hoping to find the best baseball talent. When a call came from a number he didn't recognize while in Japan on a scouting trip, Finley chose not to pick up.
He had to hear from former UCR coach Doug Smith that he should call the number back. It was important. In the middle of the night, he did just that.
"I was shocked. It really sent me back in time," Finley said. "It is unreal, especially after it has been so long. This really is such a special honor and pretty remarkable."
While his baseball memories at UCR run deep, the university is also where he met his wife, Tricia. The couple will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary this year.
"My time at UCR has affected me in almost everything that I do," Finley said. "As a father, husband, worker, and so much more. I came in as an 18-year-old kid who liked playing baseball and once I left, I'd gained life lessons and a great work ethic. It stems from all those days at UC Riverside."