Willie Davis, who succeeded Duke Snider as the center fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers and used his blazing speed to steal 20 or more bases 11 straight years, led the National League in triples twice and set a record of three stolen bases in a World Series game, was found dead on Tuesday at his home in Burbank, Calif. He was 69.
Frank McCourt, the owner of the Dodgers, said in a statement that Davis was “one of the most talented players ever to wear a Dodgers uniform.” Davis played 14 seasons for the Dodgers, on teams that were almost immediately the stuff of legend. Among his teammates were Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Maury Wills. His 31-game hitting streak in 1969 is still a team record. It was the longest streak in the majors since Dom DiMaggio’s 34 games in 1949 for the Boston Red Sox.
William Henry Davis was born on April 15, 1940, in Mineral Springs, Ark. His family moved to Los Angeles, where he became a world-class track star at Roosevelt High School. He once ran a 9.5-second 100-yard dash and set a city record in the long jump.
The Dodgers signed him after he graduated in 1958. Playing the next year for the Reno Silver Sox, a Class C minor league team, he scored from first base on a single nine times in one season.
He made his debut with the Dodgers in 1960, and combined with Wills to dazzle the National League with speed. Some called Davis the second coming of Willie Mays. He had a career-high 42 stolen bases in 1964. Dodgers fans loved how his hat flew off when he ran.
Information about his survivors was not available.
Photo: Willie Davis in 1970. Credit: Associated Press