Saturday, March 5, 2016

Willie Davis (#160)

After more than 5 years and 750+ posts on my various blogs, there are still about a dozen all-star caliber players I have not featured yet. Willie Davis is one of those.

This is one of my poorer-conditioned ’67 cards. I remember that many of my early-series cards that year were won in a variety of “flipping” games, so the corners are not very sharp. I have replaced many of these over the past 20 years, and Davis is certainly a candidate for an upgrade.

Willie Davis was signed by the Dodgers in 1958, and made his major-league debut in September 1960. He started 21 of the last 22 games in center field, taking over the position from Tommy Davis (no relation).

In 1961 he started 84 games in the middle, and was backed up by Tommy. (T. Davis was a 3B/LF/CF swingman during the 1961 season, having not settled in as the Dodgers’ left fielder until 1962.)

Willie was the team’s everyday center fielder from 1962 through the 1973 season. During that time, he led the NL in triples twice (’62, ’70), made 2 All-Star teams (’71, ’73), and won a Gold Glove in 1972. Aside from catcher John Roseboro, Willie was the only other Dodgers’ regular that didn’t move around the field to a variety of positions.

After the 1973 season, Davis was traded to the Expos for pitcher Mike Marshall. He was only north-of-the-border for one season, moving on to Texas after 1974 for pitcher Don Stanhouse and infielder (and current Phillies’ manager) Pete Mackanin.

Davis was flipped to the Cardinals in June 1975, and moved on to the Padres after the season. San Diego released him after the 1976 season, and Willie played in Japan for the ’77 and ’78 seasons. [Wow – before today I thought he only ever played for the Dodgers!] 

Davis hooked on with the Angels during spring training in 1979, and played in 43 games (mostly as a pinch-hitter) that season. He wrapped up his career playing in Mexico in 1980.

Davis passed away in 2010 at age 69.

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