Davalillo, whose older brother Yo-Yo played briefly for the Senators in 1953, started
his pro career in 1958 as a pitcher. Called up to the Indians after only one full
season as an outfielder, the Venezuelan missed two months in 1963 with a broken right
wrist (hit with a pitch by Hank Aguirre) but still hit .292. He was Cleveland's regular
centerfielder for the next four seasons. In 1964 the 5'7" 150-lb lefthander won a
Gold Glove and led the league's outfielders in double plays (5) and finished third
in stolen bases (21). In his All-Star year, 1965, his .301 BA was the third-best
in the AL, he finished fifth in stolen bases (26), and he led outfielders in total
chances per game. However, he lost much of his range in subsequent years, and he
was a poor-percentage basestealer. He was also hindered by his lack of power and
his impatience at the plate. The Indians experimented with him as a pinch hitter
in 1966 and '67, but he was a poor 7-for-38 (.184) over that period.
bounced around for several years, the pinch-hitting experiment finally worked in
St. Louis, where he led the NL in 1970 with 24 pinch hits and 73 pinch at-bats (.329).
Traded to the Pirates with Nellie Briles for Matty Alou and George Brunet for 1971,
he played outfield and pinch hit .333 for the World Champions. Pittsburgh's regular
left fielder in 1972, he hit .318, but he slumped the next two seasons (.184, .174),
although he hit .625 for the A's in the 1973 LCS. In Game Five, his
RBI triple in the fourth (he scored when Jesus Alou singled) helped drive Doyle Alexander out of
the game as Oakland clinched the series against the Orioles.
Davalillo went to
the Mexican League early in 1974 and remained there until the Dodgers picked him
up in August 1977 for their pennant drive (he hit .313). He became the first player
to play for three different teams in the LCS, his only appearance being a crucial
one. With the Phillies up 5-3 in Game Three, Davalillo beat out a drag bunt with
two out in the ninth. He scored on Manny Mota's double, and the Dodgers rallied to
win the game. They took the series the next day. Davalillo stayed with the Dodgers
as a pinch hitter and reserve outfielder/first baseman for the next three seasons
and retired with 95 pinch hits, which at that time tied him for sixth on the all-time
FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»June 12, 1963: Rookie OF Vic Davalillo, batting .304, suffers a broken arm when hit by a Hank Aguirre pitch in Cleveland's 12–6 win against the Tigers.
»June 7, 1970: Pinch hitter Vic Davalillo of the Cardinals, in for Bob Gibson, gets a record-tying two hits in the 7th inning of a 10–7 win over the Padres. The Birds score seven in the frame after the Padres had built a 7–1 lead against Gibson. Ron Herbel, the 2nd of four pitchers in the 7th, is the loser. Davilillo assumes he receives credit for two pinch hits, and that his 23rd pinch hit on August 31st ties the record of Dave Philley. He will finish the year with 24 pinch safeties but a rule difference between the American League and National League will cost him a pinch hit today.
»July 4, 1970: The Cards send three pinch hitters to the plate in the 8th inning and all three strike out. Steve Renko of the Expos fans 10 in the game, including Jim Beauchamp, Vic Davalillo, and Leron Lee in the 8th, to give Montreal an 8–0 win.
»August 17, 1977: Records fall as the Mexican League concludes its season. Ironman hurler Aurelio Lopez of the Mexico City Reds racks up his 30th save to go with a record 19 victories in relief. Veteran Tampico 1B Hector Espino hits only 14 home runs, but raises his career total to 435, a new minor league record. Thirty-eight-year-old Vic Davalillo, the league's top hitter at .384, is purchased by the Dodgers.
»October 7, 1977: Down 5–3 with two outs in the 9th inning, the Dodgers catch lightning in a bottle. Pinch hitter Vic Davalillo beats out a 2-strike drag bunt and pinch hitter Manny Mota follows with a long double off Greg Luzinski's glove. Mota reaches 3rd on a throw that Ted Sizemore mishandles. Lopes' grounder hits a seam in the carpet and caroms off Mike Schmidt's knee to Larry Bowa, and the shortstop's throw is ruled late. Los Angeles pulls out a 6–5 victory.