Books by Eric Davis

BORN TO PLAY by Eric Davis
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: April 12, 1999

A gritty and witty look under the batting helmet of star player Davis, whose heart is a big red machine. Although Wiley, who served with Sports Illustrated and ESPN, and also coauthored Spike Lee's Best Seat in the House (1997), is listed as coauthor, another coauthor here is clearly Jesus, evident in phrases like "God's will is in baseball too." The Lord saves Davis from many perils, including a World Series injury in 1990, when this fiercely proud and competitive slugging outfielder ruptured his kidney almost making an impossible diving catch. Typically, Davis didn—t display any pain until he collapsed on the way to the batters" box. He urinated enough blood to fill a beer cup and was rushed to the hospital. Every split second of this drama, from what he was thinking as he attempted the catch to the traffic lights on the ambulance drive, is given in great detail—fine reading. It's great fun to hear Davis talk about "only hitting a buck seventy-eight" (.178) and hitting a "granny" (grand-slam home run). While his favorite years may have been as a Cincinnati Red, the real plot revolves around his rare ability to play hurt. One key injury happened after he was traded from the Dodgers to the Tigers and crashed into Fenway Park's notoriously short center-field wall. His hardest and highest wall, of course, was the colon cancer he courageously fought off to return to a troubled Baltimore club last season. To the book's credit, it remains about balls and strikes, dugouts and stadiums, rather than hospitals and chemotherapy treatments. Yankee Darryl Strawberry, Davis's old high school friend and rival, who also got much publicity fighting colon cancer last year, writes in the Afterword, "Knowing what he went through probably saved my life." Davis comes off as a picture of consistency, morality, and heroism. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

A sobering yet uplifting look at life in the Chicago projects, written by three who escaped it: Eric Davis, James Martin, and Randy Holcomb. They are the Slick Boys, three plainclothes cops from Chicago who grew up in notorious projects like Cabrini Green, Rockwell Gardens, and Ida B. Welts. Such addresses often prove fatal to young black men in the city of big shoulders, but these three, friends since childhood, formed a rap group whose songs celebrated survival and religion. Their music gained popularity around the city, and all three became police officers—in a town not known for its kindness to minorities—and continue to visit the city's project to spread their message. Their grim life stories, which open the book, manage to avoid treacly sentiment. Their families share common tales of death, abandonment, and addiction, but these woes only inspire them to help others. In this book, the three introduce a simple guide for cities to adopt in order to arrest violence at its root, with police officers used as a bridge between a civil society and communities at risk. Written with the help of People magazine staffer Luchina Fisher, the language in the book is fairly straightforward and slangy throughout, but the ideas are deceptively simple. The authors— rules are refreshingly phrased: "Lead by Example" and "Be a Ray of Hope" sound like snake-oil clichÇs, but here these notions come alive with ideas about good parenting, good citizenship, and optimism. Their enthusiasm is infectious. While they don't offer solutions to huge issues like racism and poverty, the Slick Boys present an attitude that is both reasonable ("Don't play to the stereotypes") and intelligent ("You're a slave if you're not educated"). A wise and believable mandate for surviving an inner-city childhood. Read full book review >