03/09/10 7:05 PM EST
Dodgers' Davis, who hit in 31 straight, dies
Center fielder batted .279 with 2,561 hits in his 16-year career
By Bailey Stephens / MLB.com
A neighbor who regularly brought Davis breakfast reportedly discovered the body.
Authorities have said there is no reason to suspect foul play, as it appears Davis died of natural causes, according to the Times. The case, however, remains in the hands of the Los Angeles County coroner.
Davis manned center field for the Dodgers for 13 seasons, beginning in 1961. An offensive force, Davis memorably hit in a team-record 31 consecutive games in 1969. In 18 Major League seasons, Davis batted .279 with 2,561 hits and 398 stolen bases.
"It's very sad. Willie was such a young man in my eyes, how he was able to move so easily," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "Time gets away very quickly. You appreciate him while he's here and hope he's in a better place."
Former teammate Manny Mota said, "I used to love to watch Willie run the bases. He's the only guy I ever saw score from second base on a fly ball at Vero Beach. A fly ball to deep center field. He took a lot of pride in his baserunning. He was a good man and a good ballplayer. I had a great deal of respect for him. He was always laughing."
The left-handed-hitting Davis also won three Gold Glove Awards and played in the 1971 and 1973 All-Star Games. Despite his defensive abilities, Davis is also widely known for committing a World Series record three errors in one inning against the Baltimore Orioles in the 1966 Fall Classic.
Davis, who also played short stints in Montreal, St. Louis, Texas and San Diego, last played in the Majors in 1979 with the Angels.
Bailey Stephens is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.