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William Henry Davis (born April 15 1940 in Mineral Springs, Arkansasmarker, United Statesmarker) is a former center fielder in Major League Baseball who played most of his career for the Los Angeles Dodgers. At the end of his career he ranked seventh in major league history in putouts (5449) and total chances (5719) in the outfield, and third in games in center field (2237); he was also ninth in National League history in total outfield games (2274), and won Gold Glove Awards from 1971-73. He had thirteen seasons of 20 or more stolen bases, led the NL in triples twice, and retired with the fourth most triples (138) by any major leaguer since 1945. He holds Los Angeles club records (1958-present) for career hits (2091), runs (1004), triples (110), at bats (7495), total bases (3094) and extra base hits (585). His 31-game hitting streak in remains the longest by a Dodger. At one point during the streak, when the team was playing at home, the big message board at Dodger Stadiummarker quoted a message from a telegram sent to Davis and the team from Zack Wheat, the team's former record holder, at his home in Missourimarker.


As a youngster, Davis moved to Los Angeles, Californiamarker, and was a multisport standout at Los Angeles Roosevelt High School. He once ran a 9.5-second 100-yard dash, and set a city record in the long jump of 25 feet 5 inches (7.75 m). Discovered by the late Dodgers scout Kenny Myers, Davis soon became a star baseball player. While playing for Reno, he scored from first base on a single nine times one season.

He debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers in . The following season he replaced Duke Snider in center field, where he stayed for 13 years. Widely considered to be one of the fastest player of the 1960s, Davis had 20 or more stolen bases in eleven consecutive seasons, with a career-high 42 in . Along with Maury Wills, he provided speed at the top of Los Angeles lineup, being part of three pennant-winning Dodgers teams.

In , Davis batted .285 with 85 runs batted in and posted career highs in home runs (21), runs (103) and hits (171). The same season, Davis and Wills set an NL record for stolen bases by two teammates with 136 (Wills had 104, Davis 32).

Davis hit a career-high .311 in ; his hitting streak that year, from August 1 to September 3, was the longest in the major leagues since Dom DiMaggio hit in 34 straight games in and broke Zack Wheat's franchise record of 29, set in . In he hit .305, and he had another hitting streak of 25 games in , ending with a .309 average and double figures in doubles (33), triples (10), home runs (10) and stolen bases (20). He also led the NL in triples in 1962 and 1970.

Davis made the NL All-Star team in 1971 and 1973, going a combined 3-for-3 with a home run off Nolan Ryan, and won the Gold Glove each year from 1971-73. In the 1965 World Series, he set a record (since broken) of three stolen bases (including one during which he stumbled and fell, the pitcher hesitated throwing to first, and Davis literally crawled into second base safely) in a single game. He led the league in putouts twice, but also twice led the NL in errors; he committed a Series-record three errors on two consecutive plays in the fifth inning of Game Two of the 1966 World Series (the final game of Sandy Koufax's great pitching career), first by losing a fly ball in the sun, then by dropping the next fly ball and overthrowing third base.

After the 1973 season he was traded to the Montreal Expos for pitcher Mike Marshall; he batted .295 for Montreal before being traded to the Texas Rangers in December 1974. He hit only .249 for the Rangers in 42 games in 1975 before finishing the season with the St. Louis Cardinals, batting .291. In 1976 he hit .268 for the San Diego Padres, then spent two years in Japan with the Chunichi Dragons and Crown Lighter Lions; a Buddhist convert, he nonetheless irritated teammates by constantly fingering his prayer beads and chanting before games . He played his final major league season with the California Angels in , and made two pinch hitting appearances in the American League Championship Series before retiring. In an 18-season career, he posted a .279 batting average with 182 home runs and 1053 RBI in 2429 games played. He also collected 2561 hits and 398 stolen bases. His total of 2237 games in center field ranked behind only Willie Mays (2827) and Tris Speaker (2690) in major league history. In addition to the Los Angeles records he retains, his club mark of 1952 games was surpassed by Bill Russell in ; Steve Garvey broke his records of 849 RBI and 321 doubles in and respectively. Garvey and Ron Cey passed his Los Angeles club record of 154 home runs in 1979; Davis' record for left-handed hitters was broken by Shawn Green in .


  • Was selected by The Sporting News as the best minor league player in 1960.
  • His nickname, "Three Dog," was given to him by his teammates when they went to the dog races and the dogs in the number three starting box consistently won. The label fit because of his greyhound-like speed and the fact that he wore the number 3 on his uniform.
  • Left fielder Tommy Davis, who was no relation, played alongside Willie in the Dodgers' outfield from 1960 to 1966.

See also


  • Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia (2000). Kingston, NY: Total/Sports Illustrated. ISBN 1-892129-34-5.

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