Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Thursday, January 7, 2021

V 11 N. 2 Walter Buddy Davis 1952 Olympic High Jump Champ R.I.P.


Over the bar at Helsinki

Walt 'Buddy' Davis passed away on November 19, 2020 in Beaumont, Texas.  The former Texas A&M athlete starred in track and basketball as an Aggie.  In his childhood he had been stricken with polio and wore a leg brace for three years.  He did leg strengthening exercises and eventually became an outstanding athlete.  At 6' 6" he had the talent to move on to the NBA after his track career. He played for the Philadelphia Warriors and the St. Louis Hawks winning two NBA championships.  

Just for fun, can you name another Aggie who played both those sports in college and was an Olympic gold medalist.  See answer at bottom of this post.

In 1953 before Walt Davis became a pro basketball player he made one of his last appearances at the national level in Dayton when the national AAU championships were held there.  I was able to acquire the use of several photos courtesy of the Wright State University-Dayton Daily News archives housed at that library.  Here they are.  

Walt Davis being presented the 'Courage Award' by 
Ed Pollock of the Philadelphia Sports Writers Assn.
in 1954.  The other recipient that year was another Olympic
Champion Babe Didrikson Zaharias who had been
battling cancer as a then pro golfer.  She was unable to attend.

photo by Homer Hack Dayton Daily News
Wright State University Archives

photo by Homer Hack Dayton Daily News
Wright State University Archives

Olympic Jump youtube   Link

In those days the NBA was small peanuts, and I may have actually seen Davis play in Dayton, Ohio as a ten year old.  One night my parents and most Dayton basketball fans filled the old U. of Dayton arena to watch the Harlem Globetrotters.   There was an NBA game that served as a warmup  before the Globetrotters game.  Goose Tatum and Marquis Haynes were the men of the hour for the Trotters.   I do remember former Ohio State star Neal Johnston for the Warriors, but not Davis that night.  

Walter Buddy Davis , Obituary    This is worth a look, much better than your average obituary.  ed. 

Several have noted in this obit that Walt is credited with being the first over 7 feet, much to the chagrin of anyone who knows that Charley Dumas was that man.

He apparently Davis jumped 7' several times in 'exhibitions'.  He worked for a car dealership and they would have sales promotions.  He would appear there and do a little high jumping.  I'm sure there weren't any certified officials there measuring and so no official credit.

And by the way, that other Aggie to earn a gold in track and play basketball at College Station was  Randy Matson.

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