Thursday, February 17, 2011

#435 Willie Davis

#435 Willie Davis
Apparently Kenny Rogers wasn't the first ballplayer to assault a cameraman. Willie Davis looks like he's following through on a mighty clout after Topps' shutterbug got too close for comfort. Of course, I'm being facetious. Willie was a convert to Buddhism, and probably wished photographers no ill will.

Fun facts about Willie Davis:

-Willie was born in Mineral Springs, AR, but grew up in Los Angeles, where he starred in baseball, basketball, and track and field at Theodore Roosevelt High. The Dodgers signed him out of high school in 1958.

-After hitting .349 and slugging .561 in two minor league seasons, Willie was promoted to the Dodgers in September 1960 at age 20. He made a good first impression with a .318 average and 10 extra-base hits in 22 games.

-In 1961, he was given the unenviable task of replacing Duke Snider in center field. He proved able, holding down the position for 13 seasons and winning three Gold Gloves (1971-1973). He was named to the All-Star Team in 1971 and 1973.

-1962 was one of Davis' better seasons, as he hit .285 with a career-high 21 home runs. He also drove in 85, led the National League with 10 triples, and stole 32 bases. He would swipe at least 20 bags 13 times, including 11 straight years (1962-1972).

-He participated in three World Series with the Dodgers, ending up on the winning side in 1963 and 1965 and on the losing end in 1966. Though he had an overall average of just .167 (9-for-54) in these games, his two doubles and two RBI were crucial in a Game Two win over the Yankees in 1963. In Game Five of the 1965 Series, he stole three bases, including one in which he stumbled but crawled safely into second base as the pitcher hesitated before throwing to the base!

-From August 1-September 3, 1969, he set a franchise record with his 31-game hitting streak, breaking Zach Wheat's 53-year-old mark of 29.

-"3-Dog" (a nickname derived from his uniform number) drove in 93 runs and paced the N.L. with 16 triples in 1970. He also hit .305 and stole 38 bases.

-He was traded four times in less than two calendar years, going from the Dodgers to the Expos (for future Cy Young-winning reliever Mike Marshall) to the Rangers to the Cardinals to the Padres from December 1973 to October 1975. When San Diego released him in January 1977, he spent two seasons in Japan before concluding his career as a part-timer with the Angels in 1979. In parts of 18 seasons, he hit .279 with 2,561 hits, 154 home runs, 849 RBI, and 335 steals.

-In true fashion for a Californian, Davis was bitten by the acting bug. He appeared in guest roles on Mr. Ed, The Flying Nun, and Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law. He also costarred with Jerry Lewis in the 1970 comedy Which Way to the Front?

-Willie died of natural causes in his burbank home in March 2010. He was 69 years old.
#435 Willie Davis (back)


  1. It's very kind of you as an Orioles fan to not mention Willie Davis' World Series record of 3 errors in one inning in Game 2 of the '66 World Series. You know, the one in which the Orioles swept a certain team.

  2. It was only about a year ago that I learned that Willie and Tommy Davis were NOT brothers. I guess I just assumed same team, same family (what with the Alous, the Aarons, and what not).

  3. Greg - Since I'd already mentioned his anemic World Series batting average, I didn't want to seem like I was beating up on the guy.

    Jim - You did know that the Robinsons (Brooks and Frank) weren't related, right? ;-)

  4. Very well written - most people who write about Willie always bring up those errors in 66 - if they had anything to do with the Dodgers losing the series - since they didn’t score any runs since the 4th inning of game 1. Then I could see mentioning them. Also appreciate you mention his hits in the 63 series, although few, were huge game winners & his game 5 in the 65 series the record 3 steals game. Thanks

  5. Also a slight mistake - he had 182 HR AND 1053 career RBI. Thanks.