Twice National League Champion Tommy Daviswhose course in baseball as a high school superstar was changed by a phone call from Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, died Sunday night at the age of 83.
Davis, born March 21, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York, died in Phoenix with his family at his bedside.
Davis won back-to-back batting titles with the Dodgers in 1962 and 1963 and holds club records for one season with 230 hitting and 153 RBI.
The Brooklyn native was the first champion in Los Angeles series history, winning back-to-back titles in 1962 (.346) and 1963 (.326). His 230 songs and 153 RBI in 1962 remain Los Angeles records for one season. He was a member of three Dodger Championship teams in 1959, 1963 and 1965.
Davis played 18 years in the Majors including eight with the Dodgers from 1959-1966. He was so successful at New Dodgers in 1962 that he won the batting average of 346 with 27 doubles, 27 homers and 153 RBI. He led the league in hits and RBI.
He followed that up in 1963 by leading the league again with an average of 326 with 16 Homers and 88 RBI.
Davis was a three-time world champion as the Dodger in 1959, 1963 and 1965 and also received All-Star Awards.
In addition to playing with the Dodgers, Davis also played for the New York Mets (1967), Chicago White Sox (1968), Seattle (1969), Houston (1969-70), Oakland (1970, 1971), Chicago Cubs (1970, 1972), Baltimore (1972-1975), California (1976) and Kansas City (1976).
Davis was a prominent baseball and basketball player at New York Boys’ High School and was due to sign with the Yankees in 1956. Robinson, who was playing in what would be his last season with the Dodgers in 1956, called Davis home and encouraged him to that. Signed with the Brooklyn Organization. Scout manager Al Campanis also knew that Tommy’s mother was a Brooklyn fan.
“My mom wondered who’s calling,” Davis said during a 2019 interview. I pointed to the recipient and said the words, ‘It’s Jackie Robinson! “I couldn’t believe I was talking to one of my heroes, even though I don’t remember speaking much.”
Davis received a reward of $4,000. While his athletic talents were evident, a former Brooklyn Dodger champion was concerned that Davis would be too cute. The late Pete Reiser, a manager in Class D Kokomo, IN of the Midwest League, wasn’t happy when Davis smiled for publicity photos for his first full season in 1957. “I want him pissed off at everyone in the world when he goes up,” said Reiser. In 127 games, Davis hit 0.357 with 17 home runs, 104 RBI bases and 68 base stolen.
He finished his career with an average of .294 in 1,999 games with 153 home points and 1,052 RBI.
Davis, who worked with the Dodgers’ Community Relations team, is survived by his wife, Carol, five children (Lauren, Carlene, Leslie, Hermann Thomas III, and Morgana Davis), and 17 grandchildren.
Funeral services are pending.
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