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Is Willie Davis the Best Spokane Indian of All Time?

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Willie Davis with then Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley in Vero Beach, FL after his time with the Spokane Indians. (Photo: LA Times Blog) Willie Davis with then Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley in Vero Beach, FL after his time with the Spokane Indians. (Photo: LA Times Blog)
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The following is a letter written to SWX making a case for former Spokane Indians great Willie Davis to be named the greatest Indians player of all time. He makes a compelling case and he may just change your mind. Share your thoughts on the best-ever Spokane Indians player by commenting on our facebook page, tweeting us at @SWXRightNow or emailing us at sports@khq.com! Stay tuned as we will unveil the top-eight bracket on Tuesday, May 27, live on SWX Tonight at 10:30 p.m. with some special help!

I presume he has no chance of winning the viewers’ vote, since he played so long ago and other players accomplished even more than him in the majors, but the greatest Spokane Indians player of all-time was Willie Davis. It’s not even close.

Davis played center field for the powerful 1960 Indians in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. Playing in the pre-expansion era, when there were only 16 major league teams (and, therefore, more good players in AAA), Davis was named Minor League Player of the Year.

At the tender age of 20, Davis led the PCL with a .346 batting average, 216 hits, 26 triples, 30 stolen bases, a .556 slugging percentage and 126 runs in 147 games. He also hit 12 home runs and 43 doubles and drove in 75 runs. The 26 triples remains the league record, even though some PCL teams played more than 200 games per season for years. At the end of the 1960 season, Davis was called up by the Los Angeles Dodgers to replace Hall of Fame center fielder Duke Snider.

Obviously, only PCL players should be considered in the voting, since the other leagues Spokane played in are not remotely comparable.

For the record, Davis played 18 major league seasons, batting .279 with 182 homers, 138 triples (66th all-time), 1,053 RBIs and 398 stolen bases. He played in three World Series (winning twice) and two All-Star Games (going 3-for-3). He won three Gold Gloves, led the National League in triples two times and twice led NL outfielders in fielding percentage. Regarded by some as the fastest baseball player ever, Davis ranks 11th all-time in outfield putouts with 5,449.

Thanks for providing an old man with the opportunity to support my all-time favorite athlete (except for our two daughters). I was 5 years old when Willie played in Spokane, and I retain very vivid memories of him flying first to third like a human typhoon. Half a century later, I’ve never seen anything as exciting in sports, except for my kids doing virtually anything beyond walking and chewing gum at the same time.

Howie Stalwick

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