Monday, April 11, 2022

Tommy Davis Remembered


TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Craig McGraw of Middletown, DE, who correctly answered Bill Stafford was the winning pitcher in the game Roger Maris hit home run no. 61. The Prize: Starbucks Gift Card.

NEW TRIVIA CONTEST:  By answering the TRIVIA QUESTION CORRECTLY you are automatically entered into a weekly drawing for a Starbucks Gift Card.  YOU MUST ENTER VIA THE EMAIL AT THE END OF THIS COLUMN. Don't forget to put your mailing address in with the answer so if you win we can send you the gift card in the mail.

Just a note to add; If you look at the top right hand corner of the side bar you will see a link to daily sports scores. We made an agreement with Baseball 24 in a mutual sharing situation. Hope its helpful to fans of several sports.

NEW TRIVIA QUESTION:   Who was on the mound for San Francisco when Tommy Davis broke his ankle? 
ANSWER to the Trivia question in the previous column: 
Bill Stafford was the winning pitcher in the game Roger Maris hit home run no. 61.

Tommy Davis, one of the best pure hitters of the 1960s died last week. We thought as a tribute we'd bring back a column we wrote about him August 2018.

At one point in his career the name Tommy Davis struck fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers. Every time he came up to pinch-hit, he shook them to their toes. Tommy Davis did some things with the bat most people have forgotten, but one thing they should never forget was his ability to hit in the pinch.

When he retired he had bested the record of a player only purists remember; Frenchy Bordagaray. Bordagaray played for several teams including the Giants during the depression years and later retired to work for the parks district in Ventura, CA, where he became a local hero. He retired with a lifetime pinch-hit average of .310. When Davis retired he was 63-197 in the pinch for a .312 record.

Davis was known for more than his pinch-hitting. in 1962 at the age of 23 he had his best year ever. His .346 BA edged Frank Robinson by four points and his 230 hits led the NL along with his 153 RBI. He also smacked a career high 27 homers. The following year he bested Roberto Clemente by half a dozen points at .326 to win his second batting title. That year he led the Dodgers to the World Series where he hit .400 with a pair of triples as Los Angeles beat the Yankees to take the title.

In 1964 he tailed off but still hit a respectable .275 but his homers and RBI dropped substantially. It was 1965 however which pretty much killed his career. On May 1, 1965 in a game against the Giants, he slid into second base awkwardly and dislocated his ankle. He was lost for the year. It opened the door for Lou Johnson who filled in admirably and became a hero when the Dodgers played the Twins in the 1965 Series. 
In 1966 Davis came back to hit .313 but with only three homers and being the fourth outfielder for much of the season it was obvious he was on his way out. He played in the World Series but wasn't much of a factor as the Dodgers were swept by the Orioles in four.

The off season saw him packing his bags for New York as the Dodgers dealt him to the Mets for Ron Hunt and Jim Hickman. Derrell Griffith went along with him.  He hit .302 with 16 homers in his only season in New York before he was shipped off to the American League Chicago White Sox in a multiplayer trade which brought Tommy Agee to New York. It was the trade which was key in building the Miracle Mets of 1969.

Before the decade of the 1960's ended he would also play in Seattle and Houston. He hit .271 in his only season for the Pilots who only had one season in the Northwest city. Davis would end his career with a .294 lifetime average and 153 homers. At times he set franchise records and outperformed teammates including the year of the pitcher; 1968. He led the Sox in batting that season by far at .268

A three time all-star he played for 12 teams in 18 seasons and was often bitter about it. He said he could not understand why he kept being released, or sent elsewhere. His casual style of play may have been a factor because it wasn't his bat. He stated later "the lazier I felt the better I hit." He said often he went into the clubhouse to read or shave between at bats as a DH with Baltimore.

It was a decent big league career which might have been better if not for the injury. But for two straight seasons there were few better in history, let alone the decade known as the turbulent 60's. 

TRIVIA CONTEST; After reading this column you can enter the weekly trivia contest for a chance to win a Starbucks Gift Card. Enter via the following email. Send 1) your answer to the trivia question at the top of the column, 2) your name, address and email so where we know where to send the card if you win 3) any comment you have on the column. One winner will be selected at random each week based on correct answers with the odds being based on the number of correct entries.  Please cut and paste or enter the following email into your email system.
                             SEND YOUR ANSWERS TO;  
Need to get out of a baseball hitting slump, or a golf swing slump? Order my new book "Beating the Slump; An athlete's guide to a better career." See it on Amazon for only $5.99. That is for the Paperback, you can also order Kindle on that link. You can also order paperback copies directly from me via the email below for my other books.

You can get a signed paper back copy of the above book "Tales of My Baseball Youth - a child of the sixties"  for $15 Shipping Included 
Use PayPal to or contact us at the same email for other payment. 

Thank you to those of you who purchased my book after reading this column. 

1 comment:

  1. Charlie Finley did a number on him. Released after 1971 when he hit .324 as a pinch hitter and part time 1st baseman. Best explanation was that he told Vida Blue to get representation in negotiations and Charlie did not like it.