Did an Old Teammate of Tommy Davis Help Him Hit .300 in the Final Game of the Season?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Tommy Davis’ former Dodger teammate Johnny Roseboro helped him bat over .300 in 1967.

We can’t always expect stars to remember all the details from the stories they relate in their biographies (or other places where they are asked to reminisce about the past), but when the main point of the story appears to be incorrect, I think it is worth pointing it out.

Tommy Davis spent the first eight seasons of his career playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

tommy-davis

He was a great hitter, and won back-to-back batting titles with the Dodgers in 1962 and 1963 (the Dodgers also won the World Series in 1963).

After an injury in 1965, Davis was never really the same player ever again, and after being traded to the Mets in 1967, Davis played an additional eleven seasons for a total of TEN other teams (counting the Mets and also, admittedly, counting the Yankees, who Davis signed with but never actually suited up for).

In his memoirs, Davis spoke of a particular situation that took place in the second to last game of the 1967 season, with his current team, the Mets, squared off against his old team, the Dodgers.

Davis recalls coming to bat against Don Drysdale having already gone 0-2 so far in the game. Davis felt he was close to .300 (maybe even under) and really wanted to hit .300, so he asked his former teammate and friend, catcher John Roseboro, if he could help him out. He told him where he stood, batting average-wise. The game was a meaningless game (the Dodgers and Mets were 8th and 10th, respectively), so it didn’t really mean much except for personal statistical accomplishments (in the days before free agency, batting .300 and batting .299 likely DID matter on how much money you made the next season).

davis-roseboro

So Davis’ old teammate, Roseboro, had Drysdale throw one right down the middle and Davis scorched it for a double. With his average now safely above .300 (.302, as Davis tells it), Davis took himself out of the game and then skipped the final game of the season.

Is the story true?

Now, the Dodgers DID play the Mets on the second-to-last day of the season. It WAS Davis’ last game of the season. Davis DID hit a double off of Drysdale. His batting average for the season WAS .302. Before he hit the double, his batting average was just under .301.

But the rest of the story doesn’t check out, including two minor issues and one major issue.

1. Davis got his double in the third inning, after being 0-1.

2. Davis did not come out until after the fourth, where he had another at-bat (he grounded out).

And here’s the big one….

3. Roseboro was not catching that game!

Jeff Torborg was.

And yes, Torborg and Davis were ALSO teammates for a few seasons at that point, so I suppose everything else could be true and Davis just misremembered Roseboro as being the catcher, but he makes a big deal over it being Roseboro in his (Davis’) auto-biography.

Strange.

Anyhow…

STATUS: False.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is [email protected]

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