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Remembering Dodger great Willie Davis

Willie Here are some additional comments on the death of former Dodger star outfielder Willie Davis.

"He was beloved by generations of Dodger fans and remains one of the most talented players ever to wear the Dodger uniform," owner Frank McCourt said in a statement. "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."

Dodger manager Joe Torre in an interview with The Times' Dylan Hernandez: "Willie was always such a young man in my eyes because of how he was able to move so easily."

And another former Dodger great, shortstop Maury Wills, told Hernandez: "Our bench would go crazy when he hit triples. His cap would come off, a la Willie Mays.... He would've made a great 440 or 220 track man."

You can find Davis' news obituary here.

--Keith Thursby

Photo: Willie Davis played for the Dodgers from 1960 to 1973.

Credit: Los Angeles Dodgers 

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I loved the Dodgers, and I loved Willie Davis. I was a big fan back in the 70's and 80's. Thanks for the memories, Willie.

I was born in 1963 and have been a Dodgers fan all my life. I'd moved away from SoCal years ago, though I always looked out for information about Willie Davis, hoping he was getting his life back together.

When I was a kid, Willie Davis was my favorite Dodger player, precisely because he made baseball look fun. I remember him playing an All-Star game with Hank Aaron in the early 70's just prior to Aaron breaking Ruth's record, and he'd borrowed Aaron's batting helmet. He and Aaron were laughing it up in the dugout as the National League was again beating the heck out of the American League.

I hope his final years were peaceful.

Steve Wise

Mr. Thursby:

Thanks for your obituary of Willie Davis. Your discussion of Sandy Koufax, however, missed an important point: The World Series game in which Davis committed 3 errors was the last game Koufax ever pitched.

Yours truly,
Andy Weiss

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley in the 60's. My neighbor was Jerry Lewis' wardrobe man, and we used to sit in the dugout seats behind home plate. Willie Davis was the nicest ballplayer on the Dodgers. He would always wave and smile to us whenever we called out his name. I have always remembered his big smile and will miss 3-Dog.

Even though these famous actors,Hall of Famers,Performers will be sadly missed a great deal. no one truely knows how a wonderful Human being these wonderful people were.They will forever be rememberd for all their wonderful comitments to their Fans.I beleive sometimes the fans expect to much from any famouse actors,Singers, Comedians,Sports stars.I feel the presure gets to be to great so they cant handle it.Fans need to quit expecting to much from the stars of any areas and just let PatrickSwayze,MichaelJackson,CoreyHaim,HeithLedger,ElvisPrestly Rest in Peace.Just remember them for the comitted Super star they were.I will forever Love and miss them.

I very much remember Willie Davis. He was drafted as much for his remarkable speed as his baseball skills. I was very young at the time and remember seeing a documantary about this largely unknown player. It was called the Biography of a Rookie, and detailed how the Dodgers where going to mold this young track star into a skilled baseball player, making great use of that blazing speed.

Willie certainly had his ups and downs, and despite that remarkable speed and tips from Maury Wills, he was only an ordinary basestealer. Early on his batting averages were remarkable in their inconsistency, alternating between solid and abysmal. From 1961 through 1967, he consecutively hit .254, .285, .245, .294, .238, .284 and .257. Willie was always trying new techniques, and became known as the Man of a Thousand Stances, a parody of the movie bio of Lon Chaney, The Man of a Thousand Faces. Eventually he took to heart the frequently given advice to hit the ball on the ground and became in his later Dodger years a consistent .300 hitter.

It is particularly difficult to understand the violence of his post baseball years. As a player he had adopted some sort of Asian philosophy of calmness, and when tense situations arose, Willie was famous for saying, "Hey, it's not my life, it's not my wife, so why worry about it." And it was always a shock to hear that deep resonant voice coming from that toothpick skinny body.

And Willie led to the first moment I ever saw my name in print. Back some years ago when Larry Stewart was doing The Morning Briefing column he was discussing Dodger centerfield play over the years. I wrote him that when Gene Mauch was managing in Montreal he opined as to how the Dodgers had the best centerfielder in the league, and then added that actually they had the two best, but unfortunately one of them was playing shortstop. That reference was to Bill Russell, who had come up as a great defensive outfielder, but had been switched to shortstop, because he also carried a strong bat and shortstop was where an opening was. Larry liked that, printed it and gave me attribution. So I owe both men a debt.


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