A native of Venezuela, Davalillo began his pro baseball career in 1958. He signed with the Reds as a relief pitcher. After two and a half minor league seasons, he was traded to the Indians for cash. By the 1962 season, Cleveland had converted him to almost full-time outfield work. Davalillo spent that year in Triple-A before debuting in the big leagues the following season.
Listed at 5’7″ and 150 pounds, Davalillo was a high-contact hitter with a strong defensive reputation. He won a Gold Glove in his first full season in 1964. He was an All-Star selection the following year, receiving down-ballot MVP votes after hitting .301/.344/.372 and stealing 26 bases. The left-hander’s offensive numbers varied over the next few years, although he continued to play regularly in Cleveland for a while.
During the 1968 campaign, the Indians dealt Davalillo to the Angels for former All-Star Jimmie Hall. He swiped 25 bases while combining for a .277/.301/.355 batting line between the two clubs. That was the final year in which he reached 500 plate appearances, but he carved out an extended run thereafter as a depth outfielder.
Davalillo played in the big leagues through 1980. He had multi-year stints with the Cardinals, Pirates, A’s and Dodgers over that stretch. Davalillo was part of pennant-winning rosters with the latter three of those organizations. He was part of the 1971 Pittsburgh team and ’73 Oakland clubs that won the World Series.
Over a major league career that spanned parts of 16 seasons, he hit .279/.315/.364. Davalillo picked up 36 homers, surpassed 1100 hits and swiped 125 bases. He was a Gold Glove winner, All-Star, and two-time champion. MLBTR sends our condolences to Davalillo’s family, friends and loved ones.