By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Staff Correspondent
CHICAGO, Ill.—Baltimore Oriole’s First Baseman Chris “Crush” Davis is turning out to be Charm City’s man of steel. He’s big. He’s strong. And he’s setting records. As of this writing, Davis delivered 32 home runs before the All-Star Break, breaking Brady Anderson’s record set in 1996. Davis leads the league in home runs and has 83 RBI’s, second only to Miguel Cabrera (as of this writing). He is the first player in major league history to have at least 30 homers and 25 doubles before July.
Davis happily admits he’s in a good place now, but he acknowledges if God asked him to step away from baseball, he would lay down his bat and walk away.
Davis was six years old when he asked Jesus to come into his life. He was baptized at First Baptist Church of Longview, Texas.
“I still remember it. I realized what was going on… but it took me 18 years to realize what it meant to walk with Christ and really surrender on a daily basis. There were times I thought I was doing the ‘Christian thing’ but as I got older I got a little bit better perspective and matured in my faith. It’s obviously something that’s extremely important to me now, and … important to show to other people,” Davis said.
“As soon as I get up at 4 in the morning I have one goal in mind—get in the Word, pray and spend quiet time with the Lord. It helps you deal with all the pressures that come with this game and puts things in perspective, and that’s helped me be successful. I know at the end of the day baseball isn’t everything. It obviously means a great deal to me but at the same time if it ended tomorrow I would trust the Lord to have something else to go with.
“It took me a while to realize I had been holding on to baseball so long, so tightly,” Davis admitted.
Davis had a turning point in 2010. He was playing with the Rangers and hitting a career low of .191. When the Rangers went to the World Series and announced their roster, Davis was not on the list. Sitting on the bench for the series, Davis began to do some serious soul searching and found he really wasn’t truly walking with God. He knew he was holding on to baseball with everything he had and Davis knew God was calling him to be willing to let go.
“I basically just said (to God), ‘If this is Your will then let it be done, if it’s my will then show me how to surrender to You and do Your will.’”
In the off season, he played winter ball in the Dominican Republic and proposed to his wife, Jill. The following spring, he was assigned to Triple-A Round Rock in Texas and he began to consider going to seminary. The couple prayed about whether Davis should persevere with baseball or step out.
The next day, God answered in a big way. Davis hit three home runs and that trend continued. The hits were like rockets launching over the roof that made people stand up and take immediate notice.
In July 2011, the Rangers traded Davis to the Orioles and the rest is history in the making.
Davis played first base, right field, left field, designated hitter and even pitcher in 2012. In a game against Boston, after five hours and 15 innings, the bullpen was exhausted and Oriole’s Manager Buck Schowalter turned to Davis, who pitched in junior college six years previously. Davis, who had struck out five times and grounded on a double play, stepped up to the plate and pitched two shut-out innings. Adam Jones then hit a three-run homer to win the 17-inning game—the second longest in Oriole’s history.
Davis went on to hit 33 home runs in 2012. But 2013 has been legendary for “Crush.” He went “yard’ in each of the team’s first four games, becoming the first “lefty” ever to hold that title, and he’s hit more home runs before the first half then in his whole 2012 season.
Davis is big, at six foot, three inches, and weighs in at a muscular 232. He benches twice his weight. Those around him, as well as the press, jokingly refer to him as Popeye and Paul Bunyan. Davis works hard to keep his body strong, but he also knows that ultimately, his strength comes from the Lord.
When asked how other believers can pray for Davis, he responded with “strength and perseverance.”
As an encouragement for fellow believers, Davis said, “It doesn’t matter where you are. It doesn’t matter who’s around you. There is always the ability to carry yourself the way Christ carried Himself and to also to be willing to tell anybody what He’s done in your life or what He means to you. I encourage people to do that.
“I’ve obviously been blessed with a great platform to witness to people but at the same time, if I were doing something else, or whether on a national stage, I’d still be trying to get the word out.”