Oriole Park at Camden Yards is awash nightly in Crush Davis T-shirts. Signs held aloft by male and female fans proclaim their love for the big guy. The Twitterverse lauds him as everything from cute to godlike (small "g," of course). In Birdland, he's even more popular than the comic-book character he's said to resemble, the Incredible Hulk.
Yep, membership in the Chris Davis Fan Club seems to be thriving these days. And while smacking 30-plus home runs before the All-Star game will certainly do that to a ballplayer, there seems to be something greater at work here.
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"I am so happy to be a Chris, like him," said ex-Baltimorean Chris Pilz, a 25-year-old Florida restaurant worker who continues to follow his beloved Birds from afar. "He's the best in major league baseball right now, and from what I hear, he's a really nice guy, too."
For his part, Davis is happy with his public persona.
"It's something that every guy should be aware of — what you're portraying yourself to be, not only to the public, but especially to the kids," he said before Wednesday night's game against the Rangers. "For me, I want to be known as a guy who is obviously very adamant about his faith. I want that to speak volumes about me. Also, I want to be the guy that parents aren't afraid to tell their kids to look up to and to model themselves after."
Fans love "Crush" Davis, the home-run hitter. But there's something more about the guy, something beyond the ballpark. Fans like the way he carries himself, like the way he comes across a little goofy, like his steady demeanor and the ways he seems to take neither himself nor his success seriously.
Heck, those Crush Davis T-shirts offered as a stadium giveaway before a game against the Nationals in May are going for a minimum of $50 on Ebay (although imitation shirts have started to pop up for around $20).
What's that like, playing in a stadium where half the fans seem to be wearing bright-orange Crush Davis T-shirts?
"It's awesome," Davis said. "I think it's something that every kids dreams of, being that guy that's on the back of everybody's shirt, or being the guy on a poster in the kid's room."
Local memorabilia stores can't keep Chris Davis items in stock. At the Dugout Zone in Ellicott City, "we've got some autographed photos of him that have been selling like crazy," says employee Patrick Stump. Crush's rookie baseball cards, from when played for the Texas Rangers, are sold out at $10-$15 a pop (you could have had one for about $3 back in October). Signed baseballs, at $90, are flying out the door faster than Davis' home runs out of Camden Yards.
So, to sum up: People like Davis because he's a good guy, he's easygoing, he's humble, he's safe for the kids.
And, oh yes, he's cute.
"Oh God, those gorgeous eyes," said Athena Kostro, a 26-year-old bartender at Canton's Tavern on the Square who had a specially made Chris Davis jersey (child size large) ready for this year's Opening Day. "His eyes are just piercing. And whenever he swings, the muscles in his arms are so defined."
Kostro, whose Facebook page is a veritable Chris Davis pin-up gallery, pauses a moment to collect herself. "It's very, very appealing," she said, clearly understating.
Adds her friend and fellow Crushophile, 25-year-old Catrina Kolar, "He is pretty good-looking. I wouldn't mind it if he would divorce his wife."
(For the record, Kolar hastily adds that she's just joking. Clearly, the two women share a healthy envy for Jill Davis, who has been Mrs. Crush since November 2011, but they wish the couple no ill will. As Kostro notes, "His wife is just the picture of perfection — unfortunately.")
(Then again, Kolar, who bartends part time near Oriole Park at Camden Yards, wears a jersey that says "Mrs. Chris Davis" on the back. But we digress …)
These two women, while perhaps a bit extreme, are far from alone. Thanks to Davis' Facebook page and various Twitter feeds, it's clear that No. 19 has no shortage of fans, and not all of them are attracted solely by his MVP-caliber numbers.
There are those, again, who find him, shall we say, dreamy. "Sweet lord, look at that man!!" wrote one Facebook fan. "Those arms, that smile." Agreed another, "Aah, soooooo cute." One woman, seeing a picture of the Davises, was compelled to tweet, "Can we just admire how beautiful Chris Davis and his wife are? They will make some cute babies."
Columbia musician Lauren Young, 33, has trouble finding the right words to describe her feelings. "He's just so big and tall," she said. "Is anyone not a huge fan?"
And while she's gay, Young said that really doesn't come into play where Davis is concerned. "Pretty much my only thought when I see him is, 'Yeah,' " she said with a sigh. "There's a lot of looking and admiring."
But Davis' personality and approach to the game, not to mention the way he seems comfortable with his sudden fame, are winning people over as well. After all, what's not to like about a guy who happily poses like Superman for the cover of the latest Orioles game program, swings a giant baseball bat while visiting the MLB fan cave in New York and posts pictures online of his pet bulldog, Samson, staring adorably at a baseball?
"It's pretty fun being me right now," Davis acknowledged.
Said Kostro, "He just seems very charming. I know he's very religious. … I feel like he's a very very stand-up person, a very well-rounded individual."
And then she adds, perhaps speaking for every Orioles fan who has watched, open-mouthed, as another one of Davis' shots heads for the flag court beyond Oriole Park's right-field fence, "Most of Baltimore is on his bandwagon right now."
That they are.