A steady fielder and outstanding hitter for the Washington Senators before World War II, the modest Travis was called up to the majors in 1933 when Ossie Bluege, the regular Senators third baseman, got injured. He broke in with five hits in his first major league game (May 16, 1933) and stayed in the bigs.
Early in his career, the lefthanded batter slapped most of his hits to left field. Later he learned to pull the ball and cracked 19 triples in 1941. In that season, his last before entering the service, he led the American League in hits with 218, had 101 RBI, and batted .359, his eighth time over .300 in nine years. Travis was named the best all-around shortstop before World War II by The Sporting News.
Travis left baseball before the 1942 season for the army, and spent most of Battle of the Bulge crouched in a frozen foxhole. There he contracted a critical case of frostbite, and army doctors had to operate to save his feet. When he returned from military service in September 1945, the consequence of wear and age was clear. After his average sunk to .252 and .216 in successive seasons, he retired.