Crash Davis
catcher | bats: right | throws: right | height: 6-0 | weight: 173 | b: 07.14.19 | d: 08.31.01

Crash Davis
Crash Davis was one hell of a guy.
Career stats: Baseball-Reference.com
Career biographies: The Ballplayers | Baseball America
In the show: Philadelphia Athletics (1940-42)

DURHAM, N.C. Sept. 2, 2001 (AP) | Lawrence “Crash” Davis, the minor-league baseball player made famous by the movie Bull Durham, died Friday after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 82.

Davis was a baseball star and successful coach long before the 1988 movie about a longtime minor-league catcher thrust his name back into the limelight.

Born in Canon, Ga., in 1919, Davis played shortstop on the Gastonia Post 23 American Legion team that won the national championship in 1935. World War II interrupted his career, but he returned to professional baseball in 1946 and played in the minor leagues until 1951. He played for Raleigh, Durham and Reidsville in the Carolina League. In 1948, he had one of his best seasons, hitting .315 with a league-record 50 doubles for Durham.

Bull Durham
Pauline Kael: Kevin Costner plays the smart, hyper-articulate catcher Crash and comes through with his first wide-awake, star performance; at his best, he’s as berserkly ironic as Jack Nicholson is at some of his peaks. BUY 5001 Nights at the Movies

Roger Angell: It’s the first baseball movie that gets things right without trying; there isn’t a line in it that feels reverent or fake-tough or hurriedly explanatory, or that tries to fill in the uninitiated about what’s going on out there. BUY Once More Around the Park

Sports Illustrated’s Steve Wulf: Bull Durham captures the reality, the language and the humor of the game as no baseball film ever has. It also has a witty and knowing screenplay, with allusions ranging from Susan Sontag to the sweet spot. the whole story

Terrence Rafferty: Essentially, it’s a comedy about the collision of youth and experience, played out on the diamond and in the heroine’s bed, and although there?s not a trace of sentimentality in the picture, the game has never looked so romantic. BUY GQ, Oct. 2001

The nickname “Crash” was given to him as a child, he once said, after crashing into another player while chasing down a flyball.

Years after Davis retired from baseball, filmmaker Ron Shelton saw his record listed in a Carolina League guide and had an epiphany: The name “Crash Davis” would be perfect for a character in his movie.

“Back in my heyday, I got a lot of recognition,” Davis said in a 1988 interview with the Associated Press. “But never, never in my wildest dreams. ...”

When Davis met the production company at a Durham motel, he was startled by the degree of his renewed celebrity.

“All these people jumped up when I said my name was Crash Davis,” he said. “You would have thought I’d been resurrected.”

The popular film, starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins brought instant fame to the Durham Bulls baseball team and a renewed interest in minor league baseball. The movie’s producer, Thom Mount, is a Durham native.

When Davis retired, he went back to Gastonia and coached high school baseball. He coached Bethesda High to state championships in 1953 and 1954. Davis also coached the 1954 Gastonia American Legion team to a runner-up finish in the national tournament.

Davis was inducted into the North Carolina American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.


Back to Padres Nation home