Thursday, March 18, 2010

One More Eulogy For Willie Davis, "The Coolest Ballplayer Ever"

Got a lead on an old but still good article by the SF Comical's Bruce Jenkins, eulogizing Willie Davis as "the coolest ballplayer [he] ever saw".

Willie Davis might have been the coolest ballplayer I ever saw. He exuded style, a sense of the pure aesthetic, and he could have excelled at any sport. His choice of baseball was a blessing to the game, and among those of us who watched him up close at Dodger Stadium in the early 1960s, there was no question he was the fastest man alive. In a race from first to third with a running start, I'm not sure even Bob Hayes could have caught him.

Davis was found dead Tuesday at the age of 69 (authorities believe there was no foul play), leaving behind a legacy of unique, unforgettable talent. He made two All-Star teams, racked up 2,561 hits, had a 31-game hitting streak, won three consecutive Gold Glove awards, but he wasn't an elite outfielder in the National League. With the likes of Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Frank Robinson and Roberto Clemente in the mix, that just wasn't possible.

What none of those players had - few that I can recall in any era - was Davis' combination of urban cool and blazing speed. He addressed the world at a slow, measured pace, never in a rush. He basically let life come to him. Even as he approached home plate with a bat in his hands, he struck the impression of a man wearing shades at the far corner table of a jazz club.

There was lightning inside him. He turned it loose at the crack of the bat. Like so many good left-handed hitters, he crushed the low fastball, drilling it up the alleys on a laser path. That's when Willie Davis struck fear in the hearts of every opponent, because that would be a triple.

Pretty nice to see this piece from a San Francisco newspaper columnist. RIP, Willie Davis.

2 comments:

Dusty Baker said...

God why doesn't that San Francisco columnist just start a Dodger blog and report that news there?

Steve Sax said...

nice, DB