Rare Sports Films

Willie Davis

(The Willie Davis Story)

      When the Brooklyn Dodgers moved cross-country to settle in Los Angeles in 1958, the excitement of big league baseball on the west coast instantly created a quarter of a million boys who were suddenly fans of a new team they could call their own! One of these was a youngster named Willie Davis, a senior at Roosevelt High School, who was known as possibly the greatest athlete ever to attend Roosevelt. He was a pitcher on the baseball team, a track star who held the national high school broad jump record his senior season, and a top varsity basketball player. However, Willie's first love was baseball and it was his secret ambition to someday play for his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers. This 53-minute B & W documentary, originally aired on television in 1961 and now available on DVD for the first time ever, is the story of how Willie was "discovered" by Dodger scout Kenny Myers and how after a year of intense and special individual coaching, he became the hottest prospect to hit Dodger spring training camp by the spring of 1961.

      The film is introduced by Mike Wallace and begins with scenes of Willie the athlete at Roosevelt High, playing basketball, running track and pitching on the baseball team. Scout Kenny Myers is looking Willie over and is not impressed by either his hitting or his pitching, but does realize he's watching a great athlete with excellent overall baseball potential. When Myers hears Willie's ambition is actually to become a major leaguer, he decides to coach and mentor him into a player good enough to be signed by the Dodgers. The first part of the film shows Willie working out under the tutelage of Myers, including the unusual methods and unique equipment Myers uses to train Davis. Shown are practice sessions at the gym, various sandlots and even at Wrigley Field, Los Angeles. Myers tells Willie his pitching days are over and makes him into a centerfielder. To do this, Willie must change his method of throwing. Even though Willie is naturally left-handed, he has always batted righthanded. Next, Myers changes Willie into a left-handed batter to take better advantage of his burning speed. Myers even takes Willie to the Coliseum Press Box to watch the 1958 Dodgers play, all the while coaching him during the games and pointing out the mistakes even big-leaguers sometimes make. Finally after months of daily instruction and workouts, they both feel Willie is ready to be signed by the Dodgers. You'll go with Myers, Willie and his mother into the Dodger front office where they meet Dodger farm director Fresco Thompson, who signs Willie to a minor league contract. Thompson then describes Willie's progress at Reno and Spokane in 1959 and 1960 (he is batting champion of both leagues!).

      The last two-thirds of the film shows Willie's attempt to make the Dodger varsity at Dodgertown in the spring of 1961. His first night in camp, Willie peeks into the deserted clubhouse, sees that his stall is right beside Duke Snider's, and dreams of what it will be like tomorrow - the first day of spring training! You'll be right there at Vero Beach with Davis and the Dodgers, through the good days and bad as Willie strives to make the ballclub! Willie's roommate is another young outfielder, Tommy Davis (no relation) and in their room you'll hear them discuss their own weaknesses as well as their hopes for 1961. Willie relates what coach Leo Durocher told him about learning to drag bunt. Willie gets a hit his first time up against strikeout ace Don Drysdale and another hit later in his first inter squad game. He gets instruction on charging ground balls and catching fly balls at the outfield fence. Willie talks about "Iron Mike" and is shown catching balls from the "bazooka". One morning, you'll hear manager Walt Alston and coaches Durocher, Joe Becker, Clay Bryant, and Pete Reiser conferring about Willie's strengths and weaknesses and what he needs to work on to improve. Dodger players you'll recognize throughout include Sandy Koufax, Duke Snider, Norm Larker, Norm and Larry Sherry, Don Demeter, Frank Howard, Charlie Neal, Jim Gilliam, John Roseboro, Johnny Podres, Wally Moon, Gil Hodges and more! Also seen are Dodger brass Allan Roth, Fresco Thompson, G.M. Buzzy Bavasi and club president Walter O'Malley. At the end of camp, Davis is interviewed by Mike Wallace who asks Willie why he wanted to become a major leaguer.

You can get your own DVD of this original 53-minute television special,send $29.95 plus $5.00 shipping and handling to: (Illinois residents must add $2.00 state sales tax)

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