Wooden's World of Baseball

Sunday, July 27, 2008

An all-time Indy great, Vic Davilla

It's been nearly a year since I last wrote about anything related to the North Shore Spirit, but it's nice to see that some of the old-time Spirit (guys I saw day-to-day from 2003 to 2005) are continuing to play ball.

Today, I'd like to write about one of the all-time greats, Vic Davilla. If there ever is an Independent Baseball Hall of Fame, Vic would have to be in the first class, along with Eddie Lantigua and Joel Bennett. He is the very reason why anybody should fall in love with independent baseball, as he plays because that's what he is: A ballplayer.

Vic's story is a lot like most independent guys. He grew up in the Bronx and went to Westchester Community college. The Toronto Blue Jays took a chance on him in as a 20-year-old in 1993 and assigned him to the Gulf Coast League, where he hit .302 with 2 HRs and 20 RBI in 50 games - good enough to earn him a promotion to low-A Hagerstown the following year.

That turned out to be Vic's worst season as a pro, hitting a career-low .244 in 77 games with an OBP of just .298 also a career-low. Vic would spend the next two seasons in the high-A Florida State League, and while his numbers improved they just weren't good enough for a 24-year-old utility guy and he was released following the 1996 season.

Vic began his independent career in 1997 with the Adirondack Lumberjacks. The average began to steadily rise, and the power began to come on. His break out year came in 2000 while with the Albany-Colonie Diamond Dogs of the Northeast League (the predecessor to the Can-Am league).

The thing to keep in mind with independent baseball is that most teams play about 90 games. So if you're looking to translate them to a long-season format, the quickest way to do it is to multiply by a factor of 1.6 - which makes Vic's 2000 campaign look like this:

.334 BA, 35 doubles, 8 triples, 16HR, 96RBI and 93 runs scored.

Over the next seven seasons, Vic would "average" (by the math above) .320BA, 98 runs scored, 157 hits, 32 doubles, 2 triples, 26HR and 105RBI for a 140-game season. He was an all-star nearly every year during this span and was the Can-Am League player of the year in 2006, which ostensibly earned him the promotion to the manager of the North Shore Spirit for the 2007 campaign.

Vic says 2008 will be it for him. It may very well be, considering that he's been released twice due to the roster restrictions that make it tough for a team to carry a veteran player if he's not in a given "slot," though Vic has been able to play his usual corner IF and LF positions.

His production is still as good as ever: In 15 games with the New Jersey Jackals, he hit .279 with a HR and 15RBI. In 5 games with the Brockton Rox, he hit .364 with 4 doubles and 6 RBI. And since the Wichita Wingnuts picked him a little less than two weeks ago, he's hit .324 with 2 HR and 6RBI in just 9 games.

Unfortunately, Wichita trails in the standing by 5 games with less than three weeks to go. Vic's chances of winning a championship, which seemed so certain from 2004 to 2007, may be fading fast. But if there's anyone who will run it out and not throw in the towel, it's Vic.

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A little side note. It appears I've been banned by the folks at Nationals Farm Authority after a private exchange by e-mail over a public chastising by administrator John P. Yuda. It's not the first time I've been banned from a forum and it probably won't be the last, but if you're reading this and would like to campaign on my behalf, I'd like to invite you to e-mail him at the following e-mail addresses:





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