The Orioles announced this morning that two-time MLB batting champion Tommy Davis has passed away. He was 83 years old.
Davis had a lengthy professional career, appearing in parts of 18 big league seasons. He broke in with a single game for the Dodgers in 1959, then finished fifth in NL Rookie of the Year balloting the following season. The right-handed hitting Davis would quickly go on to a lot of success in Los Angeles, particularly beginning with his age-23 campaign in 1962.
During that 1962 season, Davis hit .346/.374/.535 with a personal-best 27 home runs. He led the majors in batting average, hits (230) and RBI (153), helping the team to a 102-win season. Davis was selected to the All-Star game and finished third in that year’s NL MVP voting behind teammate Maury Wills and Willie Mays. He followed up that excellent showing with another batting title and All-Star appearance, hitting .326/.359/.457 en route to an eighth-place finish in MVP voting. Davis collected six hits in that year’s World Series, a four-game sweep over the Yankees.
Davis would stay in L.A. through 1966 before beginning a second act that saw him bounce around the league. He was traded to the Mets in advance of the 1967 campaign. After a season in Queens, New York flipped him to the White Sox. He played in Chicago in 1968, then split the following season between the Pilots and Astros. Davis played with Houston, the A’s and the Cubs in 1970 before returning to Oakland the year after. After a bounceback campaign that saw him hit .324 in half a season’s worth of playing time, Davis struggled with the Cubs and Orioles in 1972 but found a new gear in his mid-30s.
Working exclusively as a designated hitter from that point forth, Davis thrived. He posted back-to-back above-average offensive showings in Baltimore in 1973-74. He remained an Oriole through 1975 and suited up with two more teams — the Angels and Royals — before retiring after the ’76 campaign.
That Davis stuck around for so long and caught the attention of so many teams was a testament to his strong contact skills. He retired a career .294/.329/.405 hitter, having eclipsed more than 2,100 hits. The Brooklyn native tallied 272 doubles, 153 homers and drove in 1,052 runs and came just one game shy of 2,000 in the majors. MLBTR sends our condolences to Davis’ family, friends, former teammates and loved ones.