Ex-Curve player Davis delivers big HR
Rajai Davis hit a memorable home run to keep the Cleveland Indians’ World Series hopes alive late Wednesday night, a blast that had a little special meaning in Altoona as the longtime big league outfielder played for the Curve 11 years ago.
Davis belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to pull the Indians into a 6-6 tie with the Chicago Cubs in Game 7 at Progressive Field. It would have been one of the biggest home runs in recent baseball history had the Indians gone on to win, but the Cubs spoiled Davis’ heroics by winning the game in the 10th inning, 8-7, for their first World Series title since 1908.
“As soon as I saw him hit that home run, I thought, ‘Man, he played for the Curve,'” John Prosperi, president of the Curve Booster Club, said late Wednesday.
The Indians trailed 5-1 in the fifth inning before rallying. It was 6-4 when Davis, who played for the Curve in 2005, put together a good at-bat against hard-throwing Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman, fouling off several pitches.
With two strikes, the camera zoomed in on Davis at the plate, and he was choked up on the bat about 2 inches to be able to make contact. He did more than just make contact, though, as Chapman tried to sneak a fastball by him down, and Davis crushed it down the left field line for the stunning tying homer.
“To see him get that huge hit tonight to tie the ballgame up, Game 7 of the World Series, it was incredible. I couldn’t be happier for him,” Tony Beasley, who managed Davis with the Curve in 2005, said by phone late Wednesday.
Recalling Davis’ days with Altoona, Beasley said, “Rajai was unbelievable. He was a tremendous talent, just a fun player to watch, always enjoyed the game.”
Davis helped lead the 2005 Curve club to the Eastern League playoffs, along with current big league star Jose Bautista. Davis stole 45 bases that season, as did Rich Thompson, and that number remains the Curve franchise record.
“Altoona was a great place to live,” Davis told the Mirror six years ago when he was with the Oakland A’s. “It was a place where a lot of the players had host families, and I was fortunate to have a couple host families take me in and take care of me, look after me and take care of my bags when I came into town. It was a really warm town. It was a great experience, and it’s something I would never take back.”
Davis later had an RBI single in the 10th inning.
“That’s what makes minor league baseball so great all over,” former Curve general manager Todd Parnell texted to the Mirror. “Altoona people can say, ‘I saw the guy that hit the home run in Game 7 play for the Curve.”
Davis first reached the majors with the Pirates in 2006 and has played in the big leagues for 11 years with six teams.
On a personal note, while Davis was playing in Altoona, the Curve Booster Club did something special for his mother, paying for her to visit town so she could see her son play professionally for the first time.
“The thing I remember about Rajai was he was a really good person, a down-to-earth guy,” Prosperi said.
“It’s an exciting thing for Altoona to know that Rajai Davis played for the Curve.”