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Groundhog Day: Davis recalls career-altering dive

Former Reds star injured kidney trying for catch in 1990 World Series

CINCINNATI -- When the underdog Reds completed a stunning four-game sweep of the heavily favored A's in the World Series on Oct. 20, 1990, it was a euphoric day for the team and the fans. It was also the last time the city of Cincinnati celebrated a major sports championship of any type.

An outfielder and a team leader whose Game 1 home run sparked the Reds in the series, Eric Davis of course remembers that season very fondly. But the day the club won it all was far from perfect for him, personally. In the spirit of the film, "Groundhog Day," in which Bill Murray gets do-overs of the same day until he gets it right, Davis would fix one big thing about his experience on Oct. 20, 1990.

"I probably would have gotten a better jump on the ball in the World Series that Willie McGee hit," Davis said. "That way I wouldn't have had to dive. That's the one where I tore my kidney."

In the bottom of the first inning in Game 4, McGee hit tailing line drive to left field, where Davis attempted a diving catch. He nearly caught the ball before it popped out as he rolled on the grass. As McGee went to second base with a one-out double, Davis remained face down on the ground and would have to be helped off of the field.

"I hesitated a little bit. It was a 5 o'clock game," Davis recalled. "I didn't see it right off the bat like I wanted to or I should have. That really would've allowed me not to tear my kidney in four places. But outside of that, I really played the game the way I wanted to play it. The results weren't always there, the injuries and things of that nature. I can't change those things. I probably would have scripted it the same way."

Had Oakland extended the Series, Davis would not have been able to play. He needed surgery to repair his lacerated kidney and could not fly home with the team.

Davis, who was already a two-time National League All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner and considered a blossoming superstar, never posted the same numbers after the injury.

"I made a full recovery three years later. I think it changed my career," said Davis, who battled colon cancer in 1997 while with the Orioles. "I missed a lot of time. It affected the outcome of my numbers and the way that people viewed me and how I could have been in the Hall of Fame or had a chance to do this. That moment set me back like five years."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
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