The Strange Chicago Sojourn of Tommy Davis

William S. Bike
5 min readApr 7, 2022

Chicago was not kind to former two-time batting champion

Tommy Davis holds the dubious record of being traded away from Chicago teams three times, in three bad deals.

By William S. Bike

Former Major League Baseball star Tommy Davis died at the beginning of April, and the coast-centric national news reports of course focused on his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where Davis did win two batting championships and played in two World Series.

As usual, however, the national media have glossed over the interesting Chicago parts of his baseball life.

In an 18-year career, Davis had stability as a star for the Dodgers his first eight years, and then bounced around for the next ten. Inexplicably. Because he played not just well, but usually great, and then inevitably would be traded or released outright.

For the 1967 season, the Dodgers traded Davis to the New York Mets, where he had a team-best .302 average, 32 doubles, 16 home runs, 174 hits, 72 runs, and 73 RBIs. Davis considered that his greatest year.

Yet after only one year, the Mets traded Davis to the Chicago White Sox. This trade actually can be explained; Gil Hodges insisted when he was hired as Mets manager that the Mets had to trade for White Sox star Tommie Agee, and you have to give up a good player to get a good player.

In 1968, Davis led the White Sox in hitting, and tied for the club RBI lead. So what did Sox management, whose team hit .228 that year, do? They left Davis unprotected in the expansion draft, and the Seattle Pilots took him.

In 1969, Davis led the Pilots in hits, RBIs, and doubles — making him the greatest Seattle Pilot ever, since the team lasted only one season. Seattle traded him in August to the Houston Astros, who acquired Davis in an effort to add some hitting as they fought for a division title.

Davis stayed with the Astros at the beginning of 1970 and was hitting a neat .282 when the Astros sold — not traded but sold — Davis to the Oakland Athletics — where he hit .290.

And then began the strangest part of Davis’s Chicago sojourns.

With the Oakland A’s out of the race, on Sept. 16, 1970, the Cubs purchased Davis, ostensibly to pinch hit. Except Cub manager Leo Durocher knew talent when…

William S. Bike

Author of "Winning Political Campaigns," a how-to book on all aspects of political campaigning, and commentator on history and baseball.