When I pitched in a city league as an 18-year-old in 2001, I kindly served up a home run to a lanky 15-year-old named Chris Davis. That’s why I like to think of myself as having helped develop the guy who would become the Baltimore Orioles’ first baseman.
This week Davis was named the American League Player of the Month for April after posting impressive numbers in virtually every offensive category. He led the league in slugging percentage (.728) and total bases (67), tied for the league lead in home runs (nine) and runs batted in (28), and finished fourth for the month in batting average (.348).
Davis, 27, benefited from a huge opening week of the season: He set a major league record with 16 RBIs in the first four games, and joined Willie Mays (1971), Mark McGwire (1998), and Nelson Cruz (2011) as the only players to homer in the first four games of a season.
Davis and I are both from the same hometown of Longview, Texas, where everything grows big—except me. I stopped growing at 14, but Davis swelled into a 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound hulk who can break a bat over his knee. No, really: Last month after striking out on a breaking pitch in the dirt, Davis snapped a baseball bat over his right knee in frustration (see video clip below).
On a recent trip to Camden Yards in Baltimore, I asked Davis about his bat-breaking incident amid a month when he was playing so well. “It’s not something I’m proud of, but I can’t take it back,” he said. “Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I’m not human. Sometimes I think people expect us to just float around, and that’s not the case.”
Davis said he learned from the incident (people gave him a hard time on Twitter), but he also found a silver lining: “The positive side is that I didn’t swear, I didn’t hurt anybody, and it wasn’t done with hatred toward anyone.”
Davis said big league language gets “pretty dicey,” but despite that, God laid it on his heart to clean up the way he talks in recent years. Davis, who grew up going to church, said he didn’t know what it meant to be a follower of Jesus until he was 24 and was playing for the Texas Rangers, when God woke him up one night in San Francisco during the 2010 World Series.
For the rest of the story, look for my interview with Davis in an upcoming issue of WORLD Magazine.
Listen to J.C. Derrick's profile of Chris Davis on The World and Everything in It: