CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Prior to the 2016 season, Rajai Davis was one of the greatest thorns in the side of the Indians organization in recent memory. When the season ended in early November, one moment etched the outfielder in Indians lore for eternity.
Davis played 10 years prior to his lone season with the Indians, eight of them in the American League. In that time, he split .304/.361/.429 against the Tribe, his best numbers against a team he had faced more than 21 times, and best against an AL team.
Tribe Manager Terry Francona mentioned often last season how glad he was to have Davis on his side. Now the 36-year old is back in Cleveland, and his former manager hopes Davis won’t come back to haunt him yet again.
“I hope whoever’s here, will give him a really nice welcome back. And then I hope he strikes out four times,” Francona said.
“There was a reason we wanted him last year because we thought he could do some of what he had done against us for a number of years,” the skipper added. “And he did. He ignited us on the bases, he played all the outfield positions, he did a really good job for us.”
There are hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube of Davis’ storied home run, and surely plenty more on official videos from MLB. If you included the extra views from Davis, the number could still see a considerable spike.
“I can’t even count. Even if I told you, I would be embarrassed,” he said. “Because I gotta show Jordan Michael. That’s my son. He has to see it. A lot of times, when we need the entertainment at the table, he wants to watch baseball, so we show him daddy’s baseball.
Davis said that he has been preparing for the moment he would return to Cleveland, having seen the standing ovations that players had received in the past when coming back to a former team the impacted. Ultimately, he says he will remember the moment as much as all of those who were affected by it.
“I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over that. I continue to think about that night,” Davis said. “It’s something I suppose that keeps me going now, that moment of doing something that special at the highest level against the best players in the league on the biggest stage of the World Series. It’s something that I always want to remember. It helps my morale and it helps the positive outlook.”
Francona also reminisced about the moment, putting it alongside Dave Roberts’ legendary stolen base that propelled his 2004 Boston Red Sox to break an 85-year title drought by way of “the Curse of the Bambino.”
“For a guy that spent one year here, he had that personality that was kind of infectious and certainly his energy on the field, and then that home run he hit,” he said. “Part of what’s fun about baseball are people seem to remember things like that. I don’t know, I guess they do that in other sports, too. But it just seems like people will talk about that I’m sure for a long time.”
Furthering his legacy in Cleveland beyond his one year, the team’s magical run and that awe-inspiring home run, there is another piece of trivia forever tying Davis to the Indians for eternity.
With Frank Robinson’s number 20 being retired on Saturday, Davis will forever be the final Cleveland Indian to wear the number.
“No, come on,” he said. “That’s something special.”