News, notes and follow-ups

« Previous Post | Afterword Home | Next Post »


One year ago: Willie Davis, former Dodgers center fielder

March 9, 2011 |  6:00 am

Willie Willie Davis was one of the Dodgers' first stars in Los Angeles, blessed with blazing speed that made him dangerous on the bases and perfectly cast to patrol center field.

How fast was he? He was so fast running from first to third base that he couldn't be followed with the naked eye, former New York Yankees and Mets Manager Casey Stengel once joked.

Jim Murray, The Times' legendary sports columnist, once wrote that Davis could get a triple every time he hit the ball past the pitcher's mound.

"He was so talented," former Dodger shortstop Maury Wills said. "God really blessed him with some great tools -- for any sport, really -- speed, strength, agility -- everything an athlete needs in order to make the big time."

He played for the Dodgers from 1960 to 1973 and finished his major league career with the Angels in 1979. Davis played in two All-Star games, won three Gold Gloves and set a Dodger record with a 31-game hitting streak in 1969. He still holds several Los Angeles Dodgers records.

A low point in his Dodger career came in the 1966 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. He committed three errors in one inning in a game at Dodger Stadium, dropping two fly balls and making a wild throw.

Davis died a year ago at age 69. His life after baseball was at times difficult, with drug problems and brushes with the law.

"Willie for a period of time was a troubled person," Tommy Hawkins, a retired Dodgers executive whose role with the team included working with former players, told The Times last year. "He'd come to Dodger Stadium in various states of disarray.... Eventually he did get his act together and worked his way back to the Dodger fold."


Willie Davis dies at 69

Peter O'Malley remembers Willie Davis

Photos: A look back at Willie Davis' career with the Dodgers

 -- Keith Thursby

Photo: Willie Davis. Credit: Los Angeles Dodgers