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After zany play, Willie Davis safe at third

After zany play, Willie Davis safe at third

June 11, 1964: Dodger outfielder Willie Davis makes a headlong dive back to third base after over-running the base in the eighth inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals. A thrown ball hits Davis’ helmet and he is safe. Cardinals are Roger Craig, left, Dick Groat, center, and Phil Gagliano.

In the June 12, 1964, Los Angeles Times, staff writer Frank Finch explained the action:

The game was enlivened by the zaniest play of the local season, one in which Willie Davis escaped two rundowns and forced two throwing errors in the eighth inning, when L.A. raked Craig for three runs.

Willie was on first base when Moon sacrificed, Craig to Phil Gagliano.

The Dodger flyer overran second base, and Gagliano’s peg to third baseman Ken Boyer put him in the soup.

Ken ran him back toward second, but when Ken threw to Dick Groat, the trapped Dodger reversed course and headed for third.

Groat’s throw was poor, so Willie started for the plate. Boyer fired the ball to catcher Tim McCarver, who threw it back when Davis again retreated. The ball hit Davis on his helmet and he scrambled into third base safely.

Only a genius like Mack Sennett, creator of the Keystone Kops, could have dreamed up such an outlandish “chase” sequence.

After all the running, Davis scored on John Roseboro’s single in a Dodger 5-0 victory. Don Drysdale pitched his 25th career shutout.

Willie Davis stole 42 bases in 1964 — his career high. Davis passed away in 2010. Here is a link to Willie Davis’ Los Angeles Times obituary.

This photo by staff photographer Larry Sharkey was published in the June 13, 1964, Los Angeles Times — missing the June 12th edition. It won Sports third place in the 1965 Associated Press California-Nevada photo contest.

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