It was during the late ‘80s where Davis was billed as the second-coming of Willie Mays
The next season Davis helped the Reds win the World Series, which he was famously remembered for diving to make a catch in the clinching Game 4 only to be carried off the field with a lacerated kidney. That injury kind of explains the tough luck Davis had during his career. One minute he’s an All-Star and helping his team win the World Series and the next he’s being left in Oakland with a lacerated kidney, having surgery AND THEN being diagnosed with cancer a handful of years later.
Anyway, Davis was at the winter meetings with the Reds where he serves as a special assistant to general manager Walt Jocketty. It was at the Bellagio one evening when we were introduced and I immediately started in on the guy.
“I remember a game when you were with the Tigers in Baltimore where you hit a ball so hard that it was on the way up when it hit the batters’ eye,” I told Davis while shaking his hand. “You really smacked the bleep out of that one.”
Davis barely paused and said, “Arthur Rhodes. It was a slider. Two-two pitch.”
Honestly, he was like the Rainman. I looked it up and he was exactly correct on the pitcher and the count, though there was no way to prove that it was a slider that Rhodes served up that September night in 1993. Either way, it was an impressive display from Davis, who based on that meeting proved to be a worthy winner of the Roberto Clemente Award during his playing days.
Now here’s the point – ballplayers remember. Oh sure, there are some details that get lost in the thousands of games that they play, but it’s hard to forget the really cool things. Hell, there aren’t too many moments of my little league, high school or wiffle ball career that I can’t retell in intricate detail. Sometimes I can remember exactly the way the grass felt or the air smelled on a day I might have gone deep at May Field or Bernhardt’s backyard.
Based on the conversations with Davis (oh, we were like a pair of savants talking about old ballgames from an era-and-a-half ago) I’m pretty sure ballplayers are able to recall all sorts of intricate details of old games. Actually, in some way that’s kind of the job of a ballplayer. The good ones like Davis – who had the quick, whip-like swing where he kept his hands way down low and seemed to wait almost until the pitch was in the catcher’s glove before he sprayed line drives all over the place – have to remember everything. It’s like poker in that a hitter has to be aware of a pitchers’ patterns, tells and repertoire. It works the other way around, too, with pitchers.
The reason I got to thinking about Davis and that trip to Las Vegas was because I read an interview with Roger Clemens where he says he’s considering whether to write a book. Clemens, of course, testified before House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that several of his alleged compatriots in illicit performance-enhancing drug use.
According to Clemens’ testimony, his buddy Andy Pettitte “misremembered” a bunch of stuff. Hell, when asked Clemens didn’t even know what a vegan was and proved further vapidity by being unaware that his own wife had been injected with HGH by his own personal trainer.
Seriously, if the dude (a ballplayer at that) can’t remember that his wife was juicing, how can we trust him with a book? Besides, Clemens was a good pitcher known for his intricate preparation and fine attention to detail. Yet when Congressional committees come calling and grand juries convene, things get “misremembered.”
And this is a guy “thinking” about writing a book? What’s going to be in it…