Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Orioles slugger Chris Davis announces retirement, reflects on community impact

Chris Davis has called it a career. The Baltimore Orioles slugger on Thursday announced he was retiring after 13 seasons, the latter few of which have been marred by injuries.

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The Orioles commended Davis on his career marked by success on the field and a massive impact off the field.

“Athletes have the power to change lives and better their communities, and Chris and his family have done just that,” the Orioles wrote in a statement. “We admire their dedication to those most in need, with hundreds of hours of community work completed, millions of dollars donated, and countless other charitable efforts performed, often without fanfare.”

After getting drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2006, making his MLB debut in 2008, and spending 2008-2010 between the majors and minors, Davis was traded to the Orioles during the 2011 season. He spent the remainder of his career in Baltimore, where he saw prolific production from 2012-2017.

He burst onto the scene hitting .285 with 17 home runs and 55 runs batted in during his rookie season in 2008. That was not only the beginning of his career, but also the start of a deeper relationship with God.

“Through that success, I had kind of gotten off track,” Davis said in a 2017 interview for The Increase. “I was enjoying, basically, the fruits of my success — money, what I thought was fame. This whole time I was kind of learning how to walk with Christ, how to pray and read my Bible, and listen to what God was saying to me instead of always trying to talk.”

He had a breakout 2013 season in which he hit a league-leading 53 home runs, drove in a league-leading 138 runs, was named an All-Star and won a Silver Slugger Award. He remained one of the game’s best power hitters for the next five seasons, including a 47-homer season in 2015.

The season before, though, Davis endured one of the biggest trials of his career.

He was suspended for 25 games after testing positive for Adderall, a banned amphetamine. He opened up that he’d been with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder previously and received a therapeutic use exemption for Adderall.

He didn’t receive an exemption in 2014. Rather than appealing it, Davis accepted the suspension and has used that experience to share his heart about forgiveness and vulnerability.

“I have discovered God’s forgiveness, which is something that I really have a grasp on,” he said. “There’s no amount of wrong that you can do that He won’t forgive.”

Though Davis has seen his time on the field limited the last few seasons — he cited his hip injury and recent surgery as reasons for his retirement — he has continued to stay active in community service opportunities and trying to steward his money well.

Last fall, he and his wife, Jill, donated $1 million to Compassion International as part of the Fill The Stadium initiative aimed at helping at-risk children and families overcome steep challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A year earlier, the couple donated $3 million to a Maryland children’s hospital where they both often visit with children.

“Throughout the struggles that I’ve faced over the course of my career,” Davis said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in December, “I always had peace that God was at work, and I felt like there were instances where I really needed something tangible to kind of hold onto and God provided that — whether it was through a relationship, whether it was through some kind of serving that [my wife and I] did in the community …

“I never lost sight of that fact that God was at work and that He was going to do something good. He was going to bring something good out of this, whether it was through baseball or after baseball.”

The 35-year-old ends his career with 295 career home runs and 780 RBIs.

“I’m sure Chris would like to have stayed healthy in his last couple years and put up bigger numbers,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said before Baltimore’s game against Detroit on Thursday. “But it wasn’t in the cards. I think the important thing is to focus on the really good years he had here, and everything that he has done for this organization and the community here.”

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