All-Time Indians: Vic Davalillo

Name: Victor Jose Romero Davalillo Position: Center Field  
                  Number: 25        
Tribe Time: 1963-1968         DOB: 07/31/1936  
Accolades: 1964 Gold Glove, 1965 All-Star, 1965 Top 25 MVP        
Stats G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS SB% OBP SLG AVG OPS
Best Season (1965) 142 505 67 152 19 1 5 40 35 50 26 7 79% .344 .372 .301 .716
Career 693 2335 279 648 88 20 25 181 122 254 72 40 64% .312 .364 .278 .676

The Indians have had a storied history in center field, including some of the greatest center fielders ever, like Tris Speaker and Larry Doby, so it is easy to forget about those who aren't in the Hall of Fame and weren't around for a decade, like Vic Davalillo.

Davalillo only played eight seasons for the Indians, but was among the top five defensive center fielders in team history and the top ten overall. He was the perfect prototype for a center fielder, playing almost flawless defense while being a productive base stealer and a prolific triples hitter.

Originally drafted as a relief pitcher by the Cincinnati Reds, Davalillo was purchased by the Indians in 1962 and changed into an outfielder at the AAA level. He made an impact immediately as a rookie the next year, playing in 87 games as a center fielder and throwing out a league leading ten base runners. It was no surprise then when he lead the league in fielding percent the next season and won an AL Gold Glove for outfield. He threw out another 11 base runners from the outfield that season, a career high he wouldn't match again. In the end, he had 35 assists as an Indian and just 18 errors in 600 games in center.

Because he played during the down 40 years for the Indians, he was never part of a spectacular team, but he was part of a great outfield with Leon Wagner in left and an aging Rocky Colavito in right. He did lead the team in steals for two straight seasons in his prime, but should be remembered more for his defensive contribution than any specific offensive output.

Prior to the trade deadline in 1968, the Indians moved Davalillo to the California Angels, rather than losing him to free agency. The haul brought in for him was Jimmy Hall, who played just parts of two seasons for the Indians before being sold to the Yankees. Davalillo, however, was just starting on his league wide tour. Predating another Indians center fielder who did a similar thing, Kenny Lofton, by thirty years, he went from team to team from 1968 through 1980, playing for six teams in total, making the play-offs five times and winning the World Series twice over that span.

After losing two World Series with the Dodgers, Davalillo finally retired after the 1980 season at the age of 43. Even after retiring from Major League baseball, he continued to play for the Venezuelan Winter League where he achieved more fame than he ever got in North America. He currently holds the career records in batting average, hits, games, runs, doubles and RBI. His 30 seasons played are also an all-time record as well and he retired from baseball as a whole only after 1987 at the age of 51. For his efforts, he was entered into the inaugural class of the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame (2003) and has had the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League (LVBP) MVP named after him. 

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona.

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