Dodgers-Giants is one of the game’s best rivalries with a rich history spanning many decades. They met Friday night for the first time in a postseason series — San Francisco won 4-0 behind the brilliant Logan Webb — but this isn’t the first time the two have clashed in a win-or-go home October series. They’ve squared off twice in a playoff for the National League pennant, most famously in 1951, when Bobby Thomson hit the legendary walk-off homer in Game 3, but also in 1962, when a third baseman out of Southern Miss played a big role for the victorious Giants. Jim Davenport, who played 13 years for San Francisco, had one of his best seasons in 1962, batting .297 with 14 homers and 58 RBIs on a team that also included Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Felipe Alou. Davenport was an All-Star and a Gold Glove winner that year. He continued to sizzle in the best-of-3 series vs. the Dodgers that broke a tie atop the NL standings. In a Game 1 win, he went 2-for-3 with a homer off Sandy Koufax. The Giants dropped Game 2, but Davenport went 2-for-6 with an RBI and a run. In the deciding game, he had a hit in four trips, but his biggest contribution was drawing a bases-loaded walk that forced in the go-ahead run in the Giants’ four-run ninth that led to a 6-4 win. Davenport, called Peanut or Peanuts by teammates, didn’t fare as well in the World Series, which the Giants lost to the New York Yankees in seven games. He went 3-for-22 in his only Fall Classic appearance.
It’s an eye-opening and heartwarming experience to read some of the comments coming from Giants Nation about Jim Davenport, the former Southern Miss star who died on Thursday at age 82. Davenport, nicknamed “Peanut” or “Davvy,” played 13 years in the majors, all for San Francisco, and is arguably the most accomplished of the 16 USM alumni who have made it to the big leagues. (Brian Dozier is on a track to change that, but that’s yet to be seen.) In a San Francisco Chronicle piece, Felipe Alou called the diminutive Davenport “a big player” on a team filled with stars in the 1960s. “If he was a friend of yours, he’d fight for you,” said Willie Mays. Giants exec Brian Sabean said Davenport was the “old breed of baseball lifer,” which is a great compliment. Davenport, who briefly managed the Giants, was still working in the organization last year despite declining health. Davenport batted .258 for his career with 77 homers and 456 RBIs. He played mostly third base, and Orlando Cepeda called him a “human vacuum” at that position. Davenport’s best year may have been 1962, when he made the All-Star Game and helped the Giants reach the World Series. He hit .297 with 14 homers and 58 RBIs that season. An Alabama native, Davenport played football and baseball at then Mississippi Southern College from 1952-54 and was elected to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1983.