Willie Davis, a talented outfielder who brought the dimension of speed to the game, was memorialized at Dodger Stadium following his recent death at the age of 69.
Nicknamed “3-D” because of his uniform number and last name, Davis was a two-time all-star who won three Golden Gloves and two World Series championships in a 14-year career.
“He was beloved by generations of Dodger fans and remains one of the most talented players ever to wear the Dodger uniform,” Dodger owner Frank McCourt said in a written statement. “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.”
Davis played on Los Angeles Dodgers teams with Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills and Jim Gilliam. During his time with the team (1960-73), the Dodgers were World Series champions in 1963 and 1965, beating the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins, respectively. During the 1965 World Series, Davis stole three bases in one inning, including one where he crawled into second base after stumbling.
“When that guy came into the league,” commented former San Francisco Giant Felipe Alou, “he put fear in everybody–outfielders, pitchers, infielders, everybody. With all the fights we had and problems we had with the Dodgers, he was always a guy you’d have a word or two with: ‘How you doing?’ ‘How you hitting?’”
Dodger Manager Joe Torre offered his recollections on Davis. “Willie was always such a young man in my eyes, because of how he was able to move so easily. Time gets away from you quickly. You hope you take advantage of it, and you hope you appreciate every day you’re here. You just hope he’s in a better place.”
Davis was born in Mineral Springs, Ark., on April 15, 1940, and moved with his family to Los Angeles, when he was still a boy.
He attended Roosevelt High School where he was a world-class sprinter. He was recruited by the Dodgers and signed with them in 1958. By 1960, he was in the Major Leagues. A year later, he replaced Duke Snider as the team’s center fielder.
The Dodger records that Davis still holds are: Most hits (2,091), most extra base hits (585), at-bats (7,495), runs (1,004), triples (110), and total bases (3,094).
Davis left the Dodgers in 1973 and played through 1979 with the Montreal Expos, Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, and California Angels. He retired, after the 1979 season with a career batting average of .279 and 398 stolen bases.