George Davis (baseball)
August 23, 1870|
Cohoes, New York
|Died: October 17, 1940
|Batted: Switch||Threw: Right|
|April 19, 1890 for the Cleveland Spiders|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 15, 1909 for the Chicago White Sox|
|Runs batted in||1437|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Election Method||Veteran's Committee|
George Stacey Davis (August 23, 1870 – October 17, 1940) was a shortstop and manager in Major League Baseball at the turn of the 20th century. Davis also spent multiple seasons as a third baseman and center fielder, and lesser amounts of time at other positions. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998.
Davis started playing professional ball in Albany in 1889. Purchased by the Cleveland Spiders the following year, Davis patrolled center field for the first two seasons of his career, leading the National League in outfield assists with 35 in 1890. Davis's strong throws ultimately led the team to move him to third base in 1892, a position he would call home for the next five seasons.
The Spiders traded Davis to the New York Giants for aging star Buck Ewing shortly before the 1893 season, and Davis blossomed in New York. With league rules moving the pitcher's mound back to 60 feet, 6 inches that season, offensive totals jumped across the league, and Davis was at the forefront of the surge. He compiled a .355 batting average and set career highs with 27 triples and 11 home runs. He also collected 22 doubles and 37 stolen bases, while scoring 112 runs and driving in 119. He became the first player to hit a triple and a home run in the same inning.
The bizarre behavior of owner Andrew Freedman hampered the team's performance in subsequent seasons, but Davis continued to perform at an elite level throughout the 1890s, regularly ranking among the league leaders in doubles, triples, RBI, and stolen bases. He became the team's regular shortstop in 1897 and quickly demonstrated an aptitude for the position, ultimately leading the league in double plays and fielding percentage four times each.
The formation of the American League provided new financial opportunities to ballplayers, and induced by a $4,000 salary, Davis jumped to the Chicago White Sox in 1902. He attempted a return to the Giants the following season for a further raise to $6,700 (the second-highest figure in the league, after that of Nap Lajoie), but was prevented by the implementation of a peace agreement between the warring leagues. Davis sat out the bulk of the 1903 season before returning to the White Sox, with whom he spent the remainder of his career. His raw offensive statistics from this time pale before those of his earlier career, but when properly compared to a drastic league-wide decline in offense, they remain impressive. His decline began for real in 1907, though, and he retired after the 1909 season. His career totals in several statistical categories rank in the top 100 players all-time, including games played, at bats, hits, runs, doubles, triples, RBI and stolen bases.
During his playing career, Davis enjoyed a reputation as an intelligent and hard-working player who did not participate in the dirty play then practiced by many of his contemporaries. His public image was also enhanced by his actions on April 26, 1900. On their way to practice at the Polo Grounds, Davis and teammates Kid Gleason and Mike Grady stumbled upon a raging tenement fire. The ballplayers rushed into the burning building and rescued two women and a three-year-old child from a blaze that ultimately left 45 families homeless. Davis said, "I didn't do much. I just went up the ladder the same as the rest of the boys and helped to carry down women and children... I didn't do half as much as Grady and Gleason." His face blistered from the heat, Davis helped his team earn a 10–10 tie with the Boston Beaneaters that evening.
Following his playing career, Davis worked in baseball as a coach, scout, and manager, while also working at a variety of other jobs that included stints as a professional bowler and an automobile salesman. The circumstancems of his death remained a mystery until baseball historian Lee Allen discovered its details through a campaign to track down historical baseball players, run in part in The Sporting News. He died in Philadelphia of paresis due to tertiary syphilis.
Davis was selected for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the organization's Veterans Committee in 1998. A few days before the committee voted, Dave Anderson wrote an article in The New York Times that discussed Davis's Hall of Fame candidacy. He pointed out the work of Cohoes city historian Walt Lipka, which compared Davis (favorably) to almost all of the shortstops already in the Hall of Fame. Anderson supported Davis's election, saying, "It's as if he were discarded nearly a century ago into a time capsule that was forgotten until now... For too long, George Stacey Davis has been his era's most forgotten best player."
- List of Major League Baseball leaders in career stolen bases
- List of Major League Baseball players with 100 triples
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 runs
- List of Major League Baseball players with 400 doubles
- List of Major League Baseball RBI champions
- List of major league players with 2,000 hits
- List of Major League Baseball player–managers
- Faber, Charles (2014). Baseball Prodigies: Best Major League Seasons by Players Under 21. McFarland. pp. 143–144. ISBN 1476613532. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
- "Player Pages > George Davis". The Baseball Page. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
- Frank Russo and Gene Racz (2006). Bury My Heart at Cooperstown: Salacious, Sad, And Surreal Deaths in the History of Baseball (Illinois: Triumph Books, ISBN 1-57243-822-3) p. 50.
- Anderson, Dave (February 22, 1998). "Sports of the times; One great shortstop lives again at age 127". The New York Times. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
- George Davis at the Baseball Hall of Fame
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- George Davis managerial career statistics at Baseball-Reference.com
- Biography cohoes.com
- Gravestone stewthornley.net