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Vic Davalillo – 1973 Topps #163

Víctor José Davalillo Romero (July 31, 1936 in Cabimas, Zulia), is a Venezuelan former professional baseball player. Davalillo batted and threw left-handed. Davalillo was a leadoff hitter known for his speed, base running and defensive ability. Later in his career, he became a valuable utility player and a record-setting pinch hitter. Davalillo also had an exceptional career in the Venezuelan Winter League where he is the all-time leader in total base hits and in career batting average.
In 1965, Davalillo led the league in batting at mid-season with a .345 batting average, earning him a place as the starting center fielder for the American League team in the 1965 All-Star Game. He ended the 1965 season with a .301 batting average, third-best in the American League behind Tony Oliva and Carl Yastrzemski, the only other players to break the .300 mark that year. Davalillo had an off year in 1966 and, the Indians began playing him only when they faced right handed pitchers. In 1967, he hit for a .302 average against right handed pitchers but, only managed a .188 average against left handers, for a .287 average overall.
Davalillo dropped to a .239 average on June 15, 1968 when the Indians traded him to the California Angels for former All-Star Jimmie Hall. He went on to lead the Angels with a .298 batting average after the trade, finishing the season with a .277 average overall, the sixth highest average in the American League. In an era dominated by pitching, Yastrzemski was the only player in the American League to hit for an average higher than .300 in 1968
At the age of 41 in 1978, Davalillo hit for a .312 average as a pinch hitter for the Dodgers as they once again claimed the National League pennant before, losing to the New York Yankees for a second consecutive year in the 1978 World Series. Davalillo finished out his major league career as a utility player and pinch hitter for the Dodgers. For the last four seasons of his career, he was the oldest player in the National League until retiring at the end of the 1980 season at the age of 43. Davalillo returned to play in the Mexican League well into his late 40s. In 1987, the ballpark in Cabimas, Venezuela was renamed Estadio Víctor Davalillo. The Most Valuable Player award in the Venezuelan Winter League is also named after him. Davalillo was inducted into the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.

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