1960 Richfield graduate, former University of Minnesota basketball and baseball star, and major league pinch-hitter/first baseman Bill “Jolly Green Giant” Davis was born in Graceville, MN on June 6, 1942. His parents lived in Minneapolis at the time, but while expecting her first child, his mother Elaine traveled to Graceville to be closer to family. The Davis’s moved to Richfield in 1951.
Davis was actually the first of two major leaguers born in Graceville, but neither lived in the area for more than a few weeks. Former Twins first baseman and longtime manager Tom Kelly was born there on August 15, 1950, a few weeks before his parents went back home to New Jersey. His dad, Joe, was playing for the nearby Chokio town baseball team. (Read a little about Joe Kelly’s Minnesota baseball career in Armand Peterson and Tom Tomashek‘s awesome 2006 book Town Ball: The Glory Days of Minnesota Amateur Baseball, pages 282–283).
The 6-foot-7 Davis got into 64 major league games with Cleveland in 1965 and ‘66, and as the Opening Day first baseman for the expansion Padres in 1969. He was used primarily as a pinch-hitter during his brief big league career, only starting 21 games at first base.
His only major league home run was a pinch-hit walk-off on September 9, 1966, coming in the 10th inning with Cleveland trailing the Angels 7-6 with a runner on and two out.
Despite only starting 21 major league games over parts of three seasons—and only playing five professional seasons altogether—Davis appeared on Topps “Rookie Stars” cards five years in a row (1965–1969).
Following his baseball career, Davis settled in Richfield and built a successful career as a commercial real estate finance executive.
Read Davis’s SABR bio by renowned baseball historian Dan Levitt ⇨ SABR.org/bioproj/person/049610f4
See Davis’s complete minor and major league statistics—including 33 home runs and 106 RBI at Triple-A Portland in 1965—on Baseball Reference ⇨ Baseball-Reference.com/register/player…