Eric Davis, a cancer patient, didn’t look the part last weekend. He dressed as a Baltimore Oriole, sparing none of the accessories. Uniform No.24, eye black, wrist tape. He had it all on.
None of it was necessary, of course. Davis wouldn’t take the field, wouldn’t have to fend off the sun at the Coliseum. But this was an afternoon game. Ballplayers wear eye black for afternoon games. And Eric Davis, even sitting still in the dugout, was a ballplayer again.
“Had my game face on,” he said. “I knew the guys would relax when they saw that and enjoy it. You have to help in any way you can, and I can’t help by playing, so …”
On June 13, a surgical team removed one-third of Davis’ colon, which was harboring an apple-sized malignant tumor. Chemotherapy treatments, aimed at preventing a return of the cancer, began about three weeks ago at the UCLA Medical Center, near his Southern California home. The sessions will continue until December, roughly once a week, his arm attached to a needle and tubing for two hours at a time.
Through all of that, Davis will try to play baseball again. He has begun walking on a treadmill and lifting some light weights, but he has not swung a bat in earnest for two months. His 1997 average remains frozen at .302, with seven home runs and 21 RBIs in 34 games.
He will start hitting off a tee soon, and then report to Baltimore in the middle of the month to start serious conditioning. Will it work? He has no idea.
Davis’ optimism is the short-term variety. He said he felt great, that he had avoided the horrible fatigue and nausea typically associated with chemotherapy. Except for his two daughters, 7 and 11 years old, nothing wears him out.
He lost about 12 pounds before he surgery, when doctors placed him on a liquid diet. The weight has not returned, but Davis knows that cancer and chemotherapy could have done far worse to his 35-year-old body.