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Vic Davalillo, a 2-time World Series champion in 16 major league seasons, dies

FILE - Cleveland Indians outfielder Vic Davalillo poses for a photo in March 1968. Davalillo, a two-time World Series champion who spent 16 seasons in the major leagues and became the first Venezuelan-born player to win a Gold Glove, died Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023. (AP Photo, File)

Vic Davalillo, a two-time World Series champion who spent 16 seasons in the major leagues and won a Gold Glove in 1964, has died. He was 84 or 87, depending on conflicting sources.

Davalillo died on Wednesday in Caracas after an emergency surgery due to an intestinal obstruction and renal insufficiency, daughter Helga Davalillo said.

Baseball Reference lists his date of birth as July 30, 1939, but Davalillo considered July 31 his birthday and Asdrúbal Fuenmayor wrote in a 2006 biography that Davalillo was born in 1936. The 1969 Sporting News Baseball Register also used 1936.

Leones de Caracas in Venezuela's winter league said it will wear a patch with Davalillo's name and No. 2 on its jersey sleeves for the rest of the season. The ballpark in Cabimas was named after Davalillo in 1987 and the Venezuelan Winter League MVP award was named after him. While Cabimas is listed as Davalillo's place of birth, Fuenmayor wrote in his book that Davalillo told him he was born in Churuguara.

Davalillo signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 1958 at age 18, starting as a left-handed pitcher, and went 16-7 with a 2.45 ERA in 1959 in three starts and 50 relief appearances for Palakta in the Class D Florida State League.

While Davalillo remained primarily a pitcher, his time in the outfield increased gradually in 1960 and '61, and he was sold to Cleveland after the 1961 season.

Davalillo won the batting title of the Triple-A International League in 1962 with a .346 average and made his major league debut on opening day in 1963 at Minnesota as the Indians' leadoff hitter against Camilio Pascual. Davalillo got his first hit the next day off eventual Hall of Famer Jim Kaat and hit .292 with seven homers and 36 RBIs. His season was interrupted when he broke a forearm when hit by a pitch from Detroit's Hank Aguirre on June 12, an injury that sidelined Davalillo until Aug. 10.

Davalillo was an All-Star in 1965, when he hit .301 with five homers, 40 RBIs and 26 stolen bases, finishing third in the AL batting race behind Tony Oliva and Carl Yastrzemski. He was traded to the California Angels in June 1968, part of a big league career that took him to St. Louis (1969-70), Pittsburgh (1971-73), Oakland (1973-74) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (1977-80).

He hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat for the Cardinals on June 1, 1969. He made his only two major league pitching appearances that June 30 and July 3, failing to retire any of the four batters he faced.

Davalillo finished with a .279 average, 36 homers, 329 RBIs and 125 steals, winning World Series titles with the 1971 Pirates and 1973 Athletics. He had a .323 average in 22 postseason games, including 4 for 20 in the World Series.

He was called Vitico by fans in Venezuela, where he won seven titles over 30 seasons from 1957-58 through 1986-87. He became the league's first .400 hitter over a full season in 1961-62, the Society for American Baseball Research said, and won four Venezuela batting championships.

Oscar Prieto Párraga, a former owner of Leones, said Davalillo's number should be retired throughout the league, which played the 2019-20 season in his honor. He had a .325 career average in the Venezuelan league with a record 1,505 hits.

Davalillo also played in Mexico with the Cafeteros de Córdoba and the Rieleros de Aguascalientes.

Davalillo married Luisa Ramona Barrera on Feb. 25, 1961, according to SABR, which said they divorced in 1969 and he married Zoraida Caraballo later that year.



The Associated Press

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