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Happy birthday, Mike Davis

Happy birthday to former Oakland Athletic and L.A. Dodger outfielder Mike Davis, who turns 49 today.

I remember Davis being a good, underrated player, and was surprised to read his B-R page and realize he really only had three quality seasons, from 1985-87 with the A's.  That was the prime of my Baseball Abstract reading days, though, and thus he's someone who is a little more engrained in my mind than some others would be.

The thing I really remember about Davis, though, is his minor role in the 1988 World Series.  Davis was signed as a free agent by the Dodgers after the 1987 season to a 2 year deal for almost $2 million.  That wasn't chump change back then...Davis was the 8th highest paid player on the Dodgers' 1988 World Series team, and made more that season than anyone on his former A's team other than Dave Parker and Carney Lansford.

Anyway, he was a huge disappointment, and after starting 39 of the Dodgers first 41 games of the 1988 season, he was hitting .222/.296/.264, and ended up 24 games the rest of the season, being relegated to pinch hitting duties most of the final four months. 

Kirk Gibson was the big free agent addition for the Dodgers that offseason who really produced, winning the MVP that season and leading the Dodgers to the pennant.  And he came off the bench to hit the game winning home run against Dennis Eckersley in game 1 of the World Series.

But...the only reason Gibson got to hit in that situation was because of Mike Davis.  Davis was sent up to pinch hit for shortstop Alfredo Griffin.  Eckersley, who was Davis's teammate the year before, knew he had could hit some power, and rather than give Davis something he could handle, he pitched around Davis, figuring that he'd rather face the light-, and right-hitting Dave Anderson, who Tommy Lasorda had sent into the on-deck circle (the pitcher's slot was up after Davis), rather than risk the lefty with power tying the game with one swing.

Davis worked the walk.  Lasorda called back Anderson and sent up Gibson, who was supposedly unavailable.  And the rest, as they say, was history...