|*Hall of Fame
Cleveland Spiders 1890-92
New York Giants 1893-1901, 03
Chicago White Sox 1902, 04-09
long and rich history of Major League Baseball, few players have had a more eventful career than George Davis. During
his 20 year career, he was involved in the first blockbuster trade, performed heroic deeds off the field, and was the subject
of a bitter dispute between the American and National Leagues.
George Stacey Davis began his major league career in
1890 with the Cleveland Spiders of the National League. After three, less-than-spectacular seasons, the Spiders dealt
the 22-year-old to the New York Giants for catcher Buck Ewing. It was the first time in history two future Hall of Famers
were dealt for each other.
At the time of the trade, Ewing was 33 years old and coming to the end of a great career,
while Davis was unproven and raw, yet filled with potential. Ewing played just two seasons in Cleveland before becoming
player/manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Davis, meanwhile, was just beginning his Hall of Fame career.
the Giants, it didn't take Davis long to tap into that potential. He hit .355 in 1893 (a 114 point improvement from
1892), good for fifth in the NL. He would not hit below .300 for the next eight seasons.
On April 26, 1900,
Davis did something that dwarfed anything he had ever accomplished on the field. On their way to a game at the Polo
Grounds, Davis and teammates Kid Gleason and Mike Grady, came across a raging apartment fire. Instinctively, the trio
jumped right in to help. Davis reportedly rescued a woman from the top floor by climbing up the fire escape. Remarkably,
he played later that day, picking up a triple.
Following the 1901 season, Davis bucked the baseball establishment
and jumped to the American League's Chicago White Sox. After hitting .299 in 132 games, he decided he'd had enough of
the Windy City and rejoined the Giants for the 1903 season. The bickering leagues finally declared peace in early that
season, and ordered Davis to return to the White Sox after just four games.
Davis wouldn't have it, and sat out the
rest of the season. During that time, things got messy. Using former player and future Hall of Famer, John Montgomery
Ward as his lawyer, Davis went to the courts to try to get back to the Giants. After months of litigation, the case
was finally thrown out and the unhappy Davis was forced to return to the White Sox.
By that time, Davis' career was
winding down. He played six more seasons in Chicago but never hit higher than .278. The highlight of Davis' years
with the White Sox came in 1906 when the team known as the "hitless wonders" (their team batting average was just .230, last
in the AL) upended the cross-town Cubs in the World Series.
Davis retired following the 1909 season with a .295 career
average, 2,660 hits (the second most ever for a switch hitter), 616 stolen bases, and 1,539 runs. He died in Philadelphia
in 1940 at the age of 70.
George Davis' career went unnoticed by Hall of Fame voters for decades. Many feel
that his challenge of the establishment in 1903 was the main reason for that. In 1998, however, the Veteran's Committee
finally took notice and put George Davis in his rightful place among the games' immortals.
-David Zingler, July 2003
Davis @ Baseball-Reference.com
Simply Baseball Notebook
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