George Davis Essentials
Bats: B Throws: R
Born: Year: 1870 in Cohoes, NY USA
Died: 10 17 1940 in Philadelphia, PA USA
Last Game: 8/15/1909
Hall of Fame: Inducted as a Player in 1998 by Veterans
Full Name: George Stacey Davis
In 1897, George Davis became the first shortstop to lead his league in runs batted in. He played twenty seasons, mostly with the Giants and White Sox, and was an important part of the “Hitless Wonder” champs of 1906. He retired as the all-time leader in games played, assists and total chances by a shortstop. He was elected to the Hall of Fame 89 years after he retired and 58 years after he died.
Davis began his career as an outfielder in Cleveland, but was traded to the Giants in 1893 for future Hall of Famer Buck Ewing. Primarily a third baseman his first four years in New York, he became a full-time shortstop in 1897. He was the Giants’ player-manager for part of 1895, and again from mid-1900 through 1901.
His anti-establishment stance in 1903 may have cost Davis consideration for the Hall of Fame; he wasn’t enshrined until the Veteran’s Committee named him to the Hall in 1998. Davis was an outstanding hitter (he batted over .300 for nine consecutive seasons with the Giants), and an even better fielder, during a time when the National League was bitterly divided and corrupt. His problems began after the 1902 season, his first with the White Sox. Dissatisfied with Charles Comiskey’s pay structure, Davis elected to jump back to the National League Giants. When peace was declared between the two warring leagues early in 1903, Davis was “awarded” to the White Sox, but he had other ideas. He sat out the season until John Brush, president of the National League, sanctioned an illegal scheme hatched by the Giants to regain Davis. After four games in a Giant uniform, Davis was served with an injunction. John Montgomery Ward, the famous baseball lawyer, represented Davis in court, and his efforts were supported by Brush, who filed a counter-suit to keep Davis in the NL. On July 15, 1903 the case was thrown out, and peace was restored in baseball. Years later, Ban Johnson punished Ward for his impertinence by seeing to it that he was not appointed NL president. As for Davis, he went on to play six more seasons with the White Sox, though he never again batted over .278.
He hit .355 with 22 doubles, 27 triples and 11 homers, 119 RBI, 37 steals, 112 runs scored, 195 hits, .410 OBP and .554 SLG. He was 22-years old.
On April 26, 1900, George Davis and Kid Gleason of the Giants were walking to the Polo Grounds when they noticed a house fire. Davis leaped into action, scaled a ladder, and rescued a woman from the blaze. Later in the game, Davis belted an RBI-triple to lead the Giants to a 10-5 extra-inning victory over Boston.
In the first trade that involved future Hall of Fame members, Davis was dealt from Cleveland to the Giants in 1893 for Buck Ewing. Ewing was 33, rather old for a ballplayer at that time. He hit .316 in parts of two seasons with Cleveland before moving on to Cincinnati as player/manager. Davis never hit below .300 for the Giants from 1893-1901, topping .340 four times. He was 22 years old when he was dealt for Ewing. Later, Ewing returned to the Giants as a manager and was replaced in 1900 by Davis.
Davis was a very good hitter, even beyond his solid .295 average. His career slugging percentage of .405 was more than 14% better than the league he played in, which is a better mark than two better-known Davis’s – Chili and Alvin.
The Hitless Wonders
The White Sox of 1906 are famous for what they couldn’t so – hit the baseball. That year they posted a dismal .230 batting average, which was seven points lower than any other team in the AL, and 19 points below the league norm. But their pitching made them a dominant team. In fact, they are often overlooked as one of the great teams of all-time, relegated as a one-year wonder by some historians. They were at or near the top of the AL in the standings from 1905-1908, winning 59% of their games over that stretch. But they won just the one pennant, so they are somewhat forgotten. Davis led the ’06 Sox with 80 RBI, batting .277 with 27 steals.