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Eric Keith Davis (born May 29, 1962 in Los Angeles, California) is a former center fielder for several Major League Baseball teams. Davis was 21 years old when he broke into the big leagues on May 19, 1984, with the Cincinnati Reds, the team for which he is most remembered. Davis actually began his professional career as a shortstop, but played the outfield in the majors. He was a childhood teammate and friend of Darryl Strawberry.
When Eric Davis first appeared in 1984, his physical talents gave him the potential to be one of the most exciting players in the game. He was a rare five-tool player with home run power as well as sheer speed on the basepaths. He made a habit of robbing home runs and elicited comparisons to Willie Mays.
Unfortunately, he was also highly injury-prone, never playing more than 135 games in any season.
Davis showed what he could do in 1986 hitting .277 with 27 homers and stealing 80 bases. He built on that success by hitting .293 with 37 homers and 50 steals in 1987, despite playing in only 129 games. From 1986 to 1990, he averaged 30 home runs and 40 steals. During this time he was one of the game's most exciting players and a very visible superstar player. He drew some MVP support every year 1986-1990, finishing in the top 15 in the voting every year. 1986-1989 he also finished in the NL's top 10 in home runs, slugging percentage, and OPS each year. While he had some other good seasons later in his career, injuries prevented him from reaching this type of peak again in his career. In 1990, with a solid team around him, Davis was a key player in Cincinnati's "wire-to-wire" championship season.
One of Davis' most famous moments was when he homered off Oakland's Dave Stewart in his first World Series at bat in 1990. The home run triggered a World Series sweep for the Reds. While diving for a ball during the Series, Davis suffered a lacerated kidney which required surgery. He also underwent off-season surgery on a knee that he had injured earlier in the season.
After 1990, Davis was unable to get his career back on track. Injuries sabotaged his play in 1991 and he was traded to Los Angeles for Tim Belcher and John Wetteland. He suffered several more injuries in 1992 and was largely ineffective. By the end of 1993, the Dodgers dealt him to Detroit for a minor-leaguer. After the trade, his body continued to deteriorate and he retired at the end of the 1994 season.
After recuperating for one season, he felt healthy enough to return to baseball with Cincinnati in 1996. He had a solid season with a .287 average and 26 home runs, although injuries cut into his playing time. He had played well enough, however, to convince Baltimore to sign him as a free agent.
Cancer diagnosis and recovery
In May 1997, Davis was devastated to learn that he had colon cancer. He vowed to return that season, although most felt that it would be unlikely that he could recover in time and was forced to have an ileo-anal pouch. By September, while he was still in treatment, Davis returned to the team. His cancer treatment left him tired but he worked hard to regain his form. Davis was well-enough to hammer a game-winning home run in the 1997 American League Championship Series. After the season, he was given the Roberto Clemente Award. He serves as an honorary board member of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
Davis was brought back for 1998 and went on to have one of his best seasons, batting .327, the 4th best average in the AL, and hitting 28 homers. He also hit in 30 consecutive games that season.
End of Career
1999 would be the beginning of the end for Davis. He spent three injury-plagued seasons with St. Louis and San Francisco before retiring in 2001. He made a spectacular catch in 1999 to preserve a no-hitter by Jose Jimenez, but landed on the disabled list as a result.
In 1999, Davis wrote his autobiography, Born to Play in which he credited Pete Rose for having faith in him and teaching him about the game. He also had harsh words for Ray Knight, who was the Reds manager in 1996. He claimed Knight did not support his comeback and did not stand up for him in contract negotiations after the season. Davis remains bitter about the Reds treatment of him after his World Series injury. Davis was left behind in Oakland after the series and requested that the Reds provide a private plane to bring him back to Cincinnati. Davis claimed that he was refused a number of times by Reds' owner Marge Schott and made his own way home after the hospital released him.
- Davis was among the first high profile baseball players to wear Nike high-top cleats.
- When he made his major league debut in 1984, Davis's jersey did not have a number.
- He was known as "Eric the Red" during his career in Cincinnati.
- He is the godfather of NBA basketball player Jordan Farmar.
- Steve Carlton recorded his 4,000th strikeout against Davis in 1986.
- He is childhood friends with Darryl Strawberry, another former MLB baseball player.
- His high school league included Darryl Strawberry and Chris Brown on a cross town team.
- When his old number 38 wasn't available, Boston Red Sox newcomer Jason Bay selected jersey number 44 as an homage to Davis.
- Twice National League All-Stars (1987, 1989)
- 3-time Gold Glove Award (1987–89)
- Twice Silver Slugger Award (1987, 1989)
- Second in stolen bases (NL 1986, 80 - behind Vince Coleman, 107)
- TSN Comeback Player of the Year Award (1996)
- Roberto Clemente Award (1997)
- Hutch Award (1997)
- Tony Conigliaro Award (1997)
- Best season: 1987
- Stole 80 bases in 1986 with 27 homers in only 415 At Bats.
- Became the first, and one of only two players ever to hit 25 or more home runs and steal 80 or more bases in a season in 1986 (Rickey Henderson accomplished this feat for the Yankees that same year).
- Holds the Baltimore Orioles hitting streak record with 30 games in 1998.
- Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame (inducted in 2005)
- Games Played: 1626
- At Bats: 5321
- Hits: 1433
- Runs: 938
- Doubles: 239
- Triples: 26
- Home Runs: 282
- Runs Batted In: 934
- Batting average: .269
- Stolen bases: 349
- Played 17 seasons from 1984 to 2001.
- 30-30 club
- Hitting for the cycle
- Top 500 home run hitters of all time
- List of athletes on Wheaties boxes
- Major League Baseball hitters with three home runs in one game
Autobiography: Born To Play, 1999, ISBN 0-670-88511-8
Documentary/Biography/Instructional: Hitting From the Heart, 2007 http://www.hittingfromtheheart.com/
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Official Eric Davis website
- Eric Davis at Baseball Library
- Eric Davis at PreventCancer.org
- Time Magazine article on Eric Davis (1987)
|National League Player of the Month
April & May 1987
|Home Run Derby Champion
|NL Comeback Player of the Year
|DATE OF BIRTH||May 29, 1962|
|PLACE OF BIRTH|
|DATE OF DEATH|
|PLACE OF DEATH|