Willie Davis (baseball)

Last updated
Willie Davis
Willie Davis 1973.jpeg
Davis in 1973, holding the home run ball that he hammered for his 2,000th career hit
Center fielder
Born:(1940-04-15)April 15, 1940
Mineral Springs, Arkansas
Died: March 9, 2010(2010-03-09) (aged 69)
Burbank, California
Batted: LeftThrew: Left
Professional debut
MLB: September 8, 1960, for the Los Angeles Dodgers
NPB: 1977, for the Chunichi Dragons
Last appearance
MLB: September 30, 1979, for the California Angels
NPB: 1978, for the Saitama Seibu Lions
MLB statistics
Batting average .279
Hits 2,561
Home runs 182
Runs batted in 1,053
Stolen bases 398
NPB statistics
Batting average.297
Home runs43
Runs batted in132
Career highlights and awards

William Henry Davis (April 15, 1940 – March 9, 2010) was a center fielder in Major League Baseball who played most of his career for the Los Angeles Dodgers. At the end of his career he ranked seventh in major league history in putouts (5449) and total chances (5719) in the outfield, and third in games in center field (2237). He was ninth in National League history in total outfield games (2274), and won Gold Glove Awards from 1971 to 1973. He had 13 seasons of 20 or more stolen bases, led the NL in triples twice, and retired with the fourth most triples (138) by any major leaguer since 1945. He holds Los Angeles club records (1958–present) for career hits (2091), runs (1004), triples (110), at bats (7495), total bases (3094) and extra base hits (585). His 31-game hitting streak in 1969 remains the longest by a Dodger. When he tied Zack Wheat's previous record at 29 games, the message board at Dodger Stadium flashed a message sent via telegram by Wheat from his home in Missouri, saying, "Congratulations. Keep going. You have done a good job. Good luck." [1]

Center fielder defensive position in baseball

A center fielder, abbreviated CF, is the outfielder in baseball who plays defense in center field – the baseball and softball fielding position between left field and right field. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the center fielder is assigned the number 8.

Major League Baseball Professional baseball league

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization, the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901 respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the Major League clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.

Los Angeles Dodgers Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Los Angeles, California, United States

The Los Angeles Dodgers are an American professional baseball team based in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) West division. Established in 1883 in Brooklyn, New York, the team moved to Los Angeles before the 1958 season. They played for four seasons at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before moving to their current home of Dodger Stadium in 1962.



As a youngster, Davis moved to Los Angeles, where he was a three-sport standout in baseball, basketball, and track & field at Theodore Roosevelt High School. He once ran a 9.5-second 100-yard dash, and set a city record in the long jump of 25 feet 5 inches (7.75 m). [2] Discovered by the Dodgers scout, Kenny Myers, Davis signed with the ballclub upon graduating from Roosevelt in 1958. [3] While playing for Reno, he scored from first base on a single nine times in one season.[ citation needed ]

Baseball Sport

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objectives of the offensive team are to hit the ball into the field of play, and to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.

Basketball team sport played on a court with baskets on either end

Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball through the defender's hoop while preventing the opposing team from shooting through their own hoop. A field goal is worth two points, unless made from behind the three-point line, when it is worth three. After a foul, timed play stops and the player fouled or designated to shoot a technical foul is given one or more one-point free throws. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins, but if regulation play expires with the score tied, an additional period of play (overtime) is mandated.

Theodore Roosevelt High School (Los Angeles) institution of high schools in Los Angeles, California, United States

Theodore Roosevelt High School is an educational institution located in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles, California named for the 26th president of the United States.

Davis played his first game with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1960. The following season he replaced the former All-Star Duke Snider in center field, where Davis stayed for 13 years. Widely considered to be one of the fastest baseball players of the 1960s, Davis had 20 or more stolen bases in eleven consecutive seasons, with a career-high 42 in 1964. Along with Maury Wills, Davis provided footspeed at the top of Dodgers' lineup. In 1962, these two players "set the table" for teammate Tommy Davis to lead the National League with 153 runs batted in (RBI), a Los Angeles Dodgers single-season record. Willie Davis, along with Maury Wills, was a key part of the Dodgers' National League titles in 1963, 1965, and 1966.

Duke Snider Major League Baseball outfielder

Edwin Donald "Duke" Snider, nicknamed "The Silver Fox" and "The Duke of Flatbush", was an American professional baseball player. Usually assigned to center field, he spent most of his Major League Baseball (MLB) career playing for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers (1947–1962), later playing one season each for the New York Mets (1963) and San Francisco Giants (1964).

Stolen base

In baseball, a stolen base occurs when a runner advances to a base to which he is not entitled and the official scorer rules that the advance should be credited to the action of the runner. The umpires determine whether the runner is safe or out at the next base, but the official scorer rules on the question of credit or blame for the advance under Rule 10.

In 1962, Davis batted .285 with 85 runs batted in, posting career highs in home runs (21), runs (103), and hits (171). In that same season, Davis and Wills set a National League record for stolen bases by two teammates in season with 136 (Wills with 104 and Davis with 32). 1962 was the first of two seasons that Davis would lead the National League in triples. [4] It was the first of two seasons that he would tally double-figure totals in doubles, triples, home runs, and stolen bases. [4]

Batting average is a statistic in cricket, baseball, and softball that measures the performance of batsmen in cricket and batters in baseball and softball. The development of the baseball statistic was influenced by the cricket statistic.

A run batted in (RBI), plural runs batted in, is a statistic in baseball and softball that credits a batter for making a play that allows a run to be scored. For example, if the batter bats a base hit, then another player on a higher base can head home to score a run, and the batter gets credited with batting in that run.

Davis was a part of two World Series championship teams, in 1963 and 1965. In the 1965 World Series, Davis set a record (since broken) of three stolen bases (including one during which he stumbled and fell, the pitcher hesitated throwing to first base, and Davis literally crawled into second base safely) in a single game.[ citation needed ]

The 1965 World Series featured the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers against the American League champion Minnesota Twins. It is best remembered for the heroics of Sandy Koufax, who was named the series MVP. Koufax did not pitch in Game 1, as it fell on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, but pitched in Game 2 and then tossed shutouts in Games 5 and 7 to win the championship.

Davis committed a World Series record three errors on two consecutive plays, in the fifth inning of Game Two of the 1966 World Series. [5] First, he lost Paul Blair's fly ball in the sun for a two-base error. One batter later, he dropped Andy Etchebarren's fly ball. When he recovered the Etchebarren ball, Davis threw it over third base, allowing Boog Powell and Blair to score. When questioned after the game, he said, "Even when you can't see the ball you have to take a stab at it, I couldn't see the ball in the sun."[ citation needed ] The Orioles swept the Dodgers, four games to none. The Dodgers did not score a run in Game Two, Game Three, or Game Four. In Game Four, Davis made a leaping catch at the centerfield fence, robbing Powell of a home run.[ citation needed ]

The 1966 World Series matched the American League (AL) champion Baltimore Orioles against the defending World Series champion and National League (NL) champion Los Angeles Dodgers, with the Orioles sweeping the Series in four games to capture their first championship in franchise history. It was also the last World Series played before Major League Baseball (MLB) introduced the Commissioner's Trophy the following year. The Dodgers suffered record low scoring, accumulating just two runs over the course of the series, the lowest number of runs ever scored by any one team in the history of the World Series.

Paul Blair (baseball) American baseball player and coach

Paul L. D. Blair was an outfielder who spent seventeen seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Baltimore Orioles (1964–76), New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds (1979). He was the starting center fielder for the Orioles when they won two World Series Championships, four American League (AL) pennants and two additional American League East titles from 1966 to 1974. One of baseball's best defensive players at his position, he earned the Gold Glove Award eight times, including seven consecutive from 1969 to 1975. One of the best defensive oufielders of his era, he had excellent range and was brilliant at tracking fly balls. He seemed to taunt hitters by playing shallow, then running down balls hit over his head.

Andrew Auguste Etchebarren is an American former professional baseball player and minor league manager. He played as a catcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) for a total of 15 seasons for the Baltimore Orioles, California Angels (1975–77) and Milwaukee Brewers (1978).

Davis batted a career-high .311 in 1969. His 31-game hitting streak that year, from August 1 to September 3, was the longest in the major leagues since 1949, when Dom DiMaggio hit in 34 straight. Davis' streak broke the previous franchise record of 29, set in 1916 by Zack Wheat. Davis was named NL Player of the Month of August with a .459 batting average. During the streak, his season average climbed from .260 to .316.[ citation needed ]

In 1970, Davis batted .305, posting career highs in triples (16) and RBI (93). His 16 triples led all major league players, and was the second time he led the National League in triples. [4]

He ended 1971 with career highs in doubles (33) and total bases (281). He batted .309, his third straight season topping .300. For the second time, he posted double-figure totals in doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases. Davis was selected for his first (of two) National League All-Star team in 1971. He was awarded his first (of three) Gold Glove award. [4]

Davis won three consecutive Gold Glove awards, 1971 through 1973. He was the first National League outfielder who threw left-handed to be so honored, and just the second in Major League history (the first was Vic Davalillo, who won an American League Gold Glove in 1964). For his career, Davis led the NL in putouts by an outfielder twice, in 1964 and 1971. He led NL center fielders in assists twice, in 1963 and 1964. He led NL center fielders in fielding percentage twice, in 1970 and 1976. He also led centerfielders in errors five times, in 1962, 1963, 1965, 1968, and 1974. [4]

In two All-Star games, 1971 and 1973, he batted a combined 3-for-3, with a home run off Nolan Ryan.[ citation needed ]

After the 1973 season, Davis was traded to the Montreal Expos for relief pitcher Mike Marshall, who would win the Cy Young Award in 1974. Davis batted .295 for Montreal before being traded to the Texas Rangers in December 1974. Davis batted just .249 for the Rangers in 42 games in 1975 before finishing the season with the St. Louis Cardinals, batting .291. In 1976 he batted .268 for the San Diego Padres, and then he spent two years in Japan with the Chunichi Dragons and Crown Lighter Lions.[ citation needed ]

Legacy and post-baseball

A convert to Buddhism, Davis constantly fingered his prayer beads and chanted before games. [6] He played his final major league season with the California Angels in 1979, making two pinch-hitting appearances in the American League Championship Series before retiring. In an 18-year career, Davis accumulated a .279 batting average with 182 home runs and 1053 RBI in 2429 games. He also collected 2561 hits and 398 stolen bases. His total of 2237 games in center field ranks behind only Willie Mays (2827) and Tris Speaker (2690) in major league history. In addition to the Los Angeles records he retains, his club mark of 1952 games was surpassed by Bill Russell in 1984; Steve Garvey broke his records of 849 RBI and 321 doubles in 1981 and 1982 respectively. Garvey and Ron Cey passed his Los Angeles club record of 154 home runs in 1979; Davis' record for left-handed hitters was broken by Shawn Green in 2004.[ citation needed ]

Davis also appeared in several TV programs, including Mr. Ed , The Flying Nun , and Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law , and was a co-star of the Jerry Lewis comedy film from 1970, Which Way to the Front? . In a 1969 episode of Bewitched , Samantha, attending a game at Shea Stadium to see the New York Mets host the Dodgers, remarks "Willie Davis just hit a grand slam!" The episode was filmed August 22, 1969, a date when the Mets coincidentally beat the Dodgers at Shea. In reality, Davis went 2 for 4 in the game, but did not hit a grand slam. [7]

On March 15, 1996, Davis was arrested for allegedly threatening to kill his parents and burn down their house in Gardena, California. Deputies also said that Davis was armed with a set of throwing knives and a samurai sword. [8]

Davis was found dead in his home in Burbank, California, on March 9, 2010, by a neighbor who sometimes brought him breakfast. [9] Initial indications showed that he most likely died of natural causes. [9] Davis had five children.

Davis, an Arkansas native, was voted 21st-greatest Arkansas sports figure by Sports Illustrated, along with former teammate Lou Brock, who was also on the list. [10]

See also

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  1. McNeil, William F. (2001). The Dodgers Encyclopedia. Sports Publishing. p. 380. ISBN   1-58261-316-8 . Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  2. Crowe, Jerry "Few players were more exciting than Willie Davis" Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, March 10, 2010
  3. "Statement from the Los Angeles Dodgers on the passing of Willie Davis (19402010)", Los Angeles Dodgers press release, Tuesday, March 9, 2010.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "Willie Davis Player Page". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  5. "1966 World Series". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  6. Whiting, Robert. "You've Gotta Have 'wa'" Sports Illustrated, September 24, 1979.
  7. "Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets Box Score, August 22, 1969 | Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  8. Arrest of Ex-Dodger Davis Spotlights a Troubled Life
  9. 1 2 Blankstein, Andrew. "Former Dodger Willie Davis found dead in Burbank home", Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2010.
  10. "The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Arkansas". Vault. Sports Illustrated . 27 December 1999. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
Preceded by
Roberto Clemente
Major League Player of the Month
August 1969
Succeeded by
Rico Carty