When most people think of Crash Davis, they think of Kevin Costner, the man who played Davis in the film Bull Durham. But the real Davis actually spent three years in the majors as a member of the Philadelphia Athletics‘ infield, not, as Hollywood would have us believe, as an experienced farmhand catcher brought in speed the development of the latest pitching prospect.
Davis’ career was cut short by World War II and a notable lack of prowess at the plate. He stopped playing minor league ball in 1952 and went on to become an executive for Burlington Industries. He continued his involvement in baseball as a coach, and worked to prevent the real Durham Bulls from leaving town in the 1990s. Davis, born Lawrence in 1919, got his nickname when he crashed into the left fielder during a high school game.