Richard Harding and Jefferson would have to love it. Bette, too. The Davis count in the big leagues stands at nine. And if you think that's a lot—Davis is only the seventh most common surname in the U.S. after Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown and Miller—consider that it's down from 1985's alltime peak of 13. "We're taking over major league baseball," says Giants outfielder Chili Davis. "We could make our own ball club."
They could at that, except that there are three pitchers among the nine. In fact, there are so many good Davises around that UPI has begun naming a Davis of the Day. "We'll name a Davis of the Year and possibly award him the Davis Cup," says UPI's Kevin Kenney, "but I guess it's taken."
There have been Davises in the big leagues since 1884, when Jumbo debuted at third base for Kansas City and Daisy hurled for St. Louis and Boston. In all, 49 Davises have played major league baseball, including Southern (Dixie, Country), violent (Crash, Storm) and four-course-meal Davises (Chili, Spud, Peaches and Brandy). Davises generally have had better luck in football—where two have won the Heisman Trophy (Ernie and Glenn, "Mr. Outside") and one has won Super Bowls and lawsuits (Al)—and in the White House, the current home of Nancy.
But with talk of a Davis of the Year, 1986 has turned out to be the Year of the Davises. If the National League has a more promising star than the Astros' Glenn, he's Reds centerfielder Eric, who was named the NL Player of the Month for July. Eric, hitting .285, is second in the league in steals (61) and has hit 16 homers, even though he didn't win a starting job until mid-June. His .519 slugging percentage would be among the league's best if he had enough plate appearances. "Every time you look on the scoreboard, you see the name Davis doing something good in one category or another," Eric says.
Eric is even 1 for 1 in pilfering against Cubs catcher Jody, who has thrown out 48% of would-be base stealers. Joining Jody on the NL All-Star team were Glenn and Chili. Before the game the three of them yukked it up for the legion of photographers. "Our biggest concern was getting our laundry back," says Jody. Chili tried to simplify matters by wearing CHILI on the back of his uniform, which the Giants won't allow him to do. In San Francisco his uniform reads C. DAVIS, so that he won't be confused with lefty reliever Mark.
The Bay Area also has Oakland outfielder Mike, and then there are Seattle first baseman Alvin, whose middle name happens to be Glenn, and Baltimore pitcher Storm, whose real name is George. Though Glenn and Storm have long considered themselves brothers, none of the nine are kin—that they know of. "I guess somewhere down the line we're all related," Chili says. Mike does have a younger brother, Mark, who plays for the White Sox Class A Appleton farm team (SI, Aug. 11). He's one of 20 minor league Davises, five of whom (Butch, Gerry, Joel, Steve and Trench) have played in the bigs.
None of the Davises seems to mind being one among many. "I have no wish for any other name," says Alvin, the only Davis ever to win a major award (1984 AL Rookie of the Year). "What do we do? Trade it in like a car?" Jody plans to stick with his name, too. "It's easy for me to remember," he says. If he forgets, he can always check the scoreboard for the league leaders.
One of the gang: Oakland's own is Mike.