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Chili spices up Hall ballot
12/30/2004 2:13 PM ET
Few fans or sportswriters will ever forget the effervescence -- and outrageousness -- of Charles Theodore Davis.

Who?

Oh, Chili Davis. The spirited, forthright outfielder and designated hitter was popular and highly productive as a 19-year Major Leaguer. He starred for the San Francisco Giants for seven seasons, then played for the Angels, Twins, Royals and Yankees.

There's one quote that neatly sums up who and what Davis is: "Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional." The source? The man himself.

Davis earned his nickname at 12, after getting an unfortunate haircut. Friends chided him, calling him "Chili Bowl," which was later shortened to "Chili." He would rarely be called Charles again.

With 350 lifetime homers and three All-Star berths -- in 1984, 1986 and 1994 -- Davis is making his first appearance on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot this year.

His stats may not be among the HOF elite, but Davis did hit at least 19 homers in a season for five different clubs. He also won three Silver Slugger Awards as a DH and played for three World Series champion teams -- the 1991 Twins, and the 1998 and '99 Yankees.

Davis retired with the third-highest home run total for a switch-hitter, behind Eddie Murray and Mickey Mantle.

The outspoken outfielder enjoyed a good run with the Giants, who drafted him in the 11th round of the 1977 draft. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Davis' family moved to Los Angeles in 1970. Two years later, when Davis was 12 years old, Chili first played baseball.

A fast learner with foot speed and a good batting eye, he started his career with San Francisco in 1981 and retiried in 1999. As a Giant, he had his best campaign in 1984, when he hit .315 with 81 RBIs and 21 homers. That year, he also played in his first All-Star Game.

  Davis' Resume
Teams: Giants, Angels, Twins, Royals, Yankees
Key stats: 350 HR, .274 BA
Awards: Three Silver Slugger Awards
Best HOF vote Pct.: First year on ballot
Peers in Hall: Tony Perez, Dave Winfield
More stats and bio >

Asked about his hitting style, Davis cited former Giants hitting coach Tom McCraw as a great influence.

Davis said that McCraw told him, "'Never leave a fastball. You always look for the fastball. And if there are two strikes, go right back to the fastball and adjust to something else, because you can't hit a fastball looking for a curveball, but you can hit a curveball looking for a fastball.'

"It made a whole lot of sense," said Davis, who turns 45 on Jan. 17.

Davis loved verbal jousting -- generally in a good-natured way -- with the media and outfield bleacher fans at Candlestick Park. During a few of the Giants' down years, he admitted he wasn't happy with the club and wanted to be traded. He finally was granted free agency in November 1987, and he subsequently signed with the Angels.

Davis is tied for 40th on the all-time sacrifice fly list with 94, and he is tied for 15th on the all-time intentional walk list with 188.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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