Tommy Davis, Batting Star With the ’60s Dodgers, Dies at 83

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Davis went on in 1970 to hit a combined .284 for three clubs, including the Chicago Cubs, before the Oakland A’s released him, leaving Davis bitter. “Nobody gets released after hitting .284; you ever hear of that?” he asked at the time. And his salary was cut in half in the same year, from $80,000 at its peak with the Cubs.

But fate intervened when the American League adopted the designated hitter rule in 1973, replacing the pitcher in a batting lineup. With the Orioles, his 10th team in 15 seasons, Davis flourished as the full-time D.H., batting .306, the top average in the league at that position. In 1974, he was once again the leading designated hitter, finishing with 181 hits and a .289 average.

“The designated hitter is taking care of this old man,” Davis told The Times. “It sure has helped me bring home the paychecks.”

When he failed to make the Yankees in 1976, he finished that season as the D.H. for the Kansas City Royals. In his final game, the 1,999th of his career, in October, he had two singles and finished with a lifetime .294 batting average, 153 home runs, 1,052 RBIs, and 2,121 hits.

After retiring at age 36, Davis stayed close to baseball, working with the Dodgers community relations department until moving to Arizona about a year ago.

He is survived by his second wife, Carol A. Davis; four daughters, Morgana, Lauren, Carlyn and Leslie; a son, Herman; and a number of grandchildren.

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