I was always amazed by the 1962 season by Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Tommy Davis. He played in everyone of the Dodgers’ 163 games including a one-game playoff loss to the Giants. He came to plate 665 times and scored 120 runs. Davis led the National League in hits (230) he head an unbelievable 153 RBI’s and also won the batting title at .346. Wow!
And no he wasn’t the MVP of the National League. That honor went to his teammate on the Dodgers, speedster Maury Wills.
A dozen years later, Davis was wearing an Orioles uniform. What a pure hitter. In the sixties, he had pair of 20-game hitting streaks.
Evidently Davis had a serviceable suitcase because after he left Los Angeles in 1966, he served stints with the New York Mets, Seattle Pilots, Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs and the A’s again. We finally got him in a trade with the Cubs for catcher Elrod Hendricks. Of course we got Hendricks back, thus it seemed like we stole Davis from the Cubs.
And we got a glimpse of his hitting skills when he arrived in Baltimore in 1972. He was given the designated hitter role by Earl Weaver and Davis flourished in that hitting position
In the summer of 1974, he had not one but two five-hit games. In July he had four singles and double against the Indians in a 13-inning loss.
The result was better in August when he laced five singles against Kansas City in a 9-2 romp.
Is it a coincidence that Davis’ two campaigns of 73 and 74 the Orioles went to the playoffs? By this time, Davis was not scoring 120 runs a season. But he could still hit the ball. In both of those seasons, he managed exactly 20 doubles. He wouldn’t blow teams away with power but in both playoff campaigns he drove in more than 80 runs. In 73 he hit .306. The following season, he batted 626 times.
Davis did bring out his power bat in an Orioles win in May of 74. I’m guessing this was a rain-shortened affair. In back to back at-bats against Bill Lee of the Red Sox, he clocked a pair of two-run homers. The game went six innings.
Let’s go to the first game of the AL playoffs between Baltimore and Oakland. It’s Vida Blue for Oakland and Jim Palmer for Baltimore. The first inning on Oct. 6th pretty much decided this contest. Put it this way by time the second inning arrived, Blue was already in the showers. Davis cracked an opposite field two-bagger to right field sending Merv Rettenmund home with the first run of the series. Davis would score and Rettenmund would bat again in the frame. The O’s were up 4-0. Davis would add two more singles in the 6-0 romp. He had two more hits in game two but the O’s dropped that game 6-3.
On a side note that fourth game of the series featured a brilliant pitching duel between Kenny Holtzman and Mike Cuellar. The O’s would drop a 2-1 heartbreaker in 11 innings.
In 18 seasons of Major League hitting, Davis hit a crisp .294. In 1974, he was chosen as the designated hitter on the Sporting News team. We probably could use a pure hitter like that in today’s Orioles lineup.