BORN TO PLAY by Eric Davis


The Eric Davis Story
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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.

Pub Date: April 12th, 1999
ISBN: 0-670-88511-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1999


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