Former Dodgers center-fielder Willie Davis was found dead in his Glendale, CA home today. He was 69. According to reports from the LAPD in today’s Los Angeles Times, Davis appeared to have died of natural causes.
The Dodgers issued the following statement from Frank McCourt this afternoon:
“Willie Davis went from a local talent at Roosevelt High School to a World Champion center fielder for the Dodgers in just a few years and many of his records still stand today. He was beloved by generations of Dodger fans and remains one of the most talented players ever to wear the Dodger uniform. Having spent time with him over the past six years, I know how proud he was to have been a Dodger. He will surely be missed and our sincere thoughts are with his children during this difficult time.”
I think Steve Dilbeck’s blog post remembering the good, the bad and the expectations (placed on by fans and of himself) Willie Davis is really something, and worth a read by everyone who visits this blog. A brief quote is below:
He was a remarkable athlete who did some remarkable things for the Dodgers. Yet somehow with Willie, it seemed less about what he accomplished and more about what he did not.……..
He couldn’t hit as well as Tommy Davis, steal like Maury Wills. Didn’t have the commanding presence of Sandy Koufax or Don Drysdale. He seemed more a role player on the great Dodgers teams of the ’60s, though his flashes of greatness only seemed to leave others yearning for more.
Willie was called up when he was only 20 and played 13 years with the Dodgers, 17 major-league seasons overall. And when he passed away Tuesday, he was still the Los Angeles Dodgers all-time leader in hits, extra-base hits, total bases, plate appearances and triples.
He had a deep voice, distinctive laugh. For a man others claimed was always in search of himself as a player, he gave off the appearance of easy-going happiness.
He won three Gold Gloves, stole 20 or more bases 13 times, still holds the L.A. Dodgers record for his 13-game hitting streak and was twice an All-Star.
And yet unfairly, he is almost remembered as much for the three errors he committed on consecutive plays in Game 2 of the 1966 World Series. For being Willie Davis, and not Willie Mays. For imagined sins of omission.
If guilty only of not being a superstar, he was still a unique star and special player. He died at age 69, and the only thing he didn’t give us enough of, was years.
Rest in peace, Willie Davis.
Photo Credit: WalterOMalley.com