Lawrence "Crash" Columbus Davis (1919 – 2001)

"Crash" Davis
Yes, there really was a "Crash" Davis who was born in Georgia, but grew up in Gastonia, North Caroliana. He went onto play baseball in high school, the American Legion, Duke University, the Philadelphia Athletics, and for one summer in 1937, the Gastonia Spinners, a team in the infamous Independent Carolina "Outlaw" Baseball League. Davis was seventeen at the time and had just completed his freshman year at Duke when he signed up to play with the Spinners. "They called that league an “outlaw” league because it used real professional players but it didn’t follow the rules of organized professional baseball. I got more experience in that league in 1937 than any other, outside the big leagues... I learned a lot of lessons in that league. Hickory had a big pitcher named Kermode and in one game I hit a ball up against the fence the first time I was at bat. When I went up the second time, I sort of pointed like I was going to do it again and Kermode hit me in the head with his first pitch. We didn’t have helmets in those days and I was really hit."
After graduating from Duke University in 1941, Davis signed to play with the Philadelphia Athletics. He played for Connie Mack for two years until he was drafted in 1942. Like so many players who returned to baseball following WWII, they had lost the best playing years and like so many of those players, Davis returned to "B" Baseball leagues. He spent two years for a team in New England, then moved to Durham to play for the Bulls then later for Raleigh. Davis held the record for doubles so when movie director Ron Shelton was creating his characters for Bull Durham, "Crash Davis" became the record holder for home runs. Davis retired from baseball in 1952.