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Dave Bancroft


Position: Shortstop
Teams: Philadelphia Phillies, 1915-1920; New York Giants, 1920-1923, 1930; Boston Braves, 1924-1927; Brooklyn Dodgers, 1928-1929
Manager: Boston Braves, 1924-1927
Managerial Record: 238-336

When Dave Bancroft was traded by the Phillies to the Giants in June 1920, he was taken aside by John McGraw on his first day in New York livery for instruction in the team’s signs.

Bancroft quietly confided to the famous skipper that the lesson was unnecessary. He knew all the Giants’ signs already. McGraw was so impressed by this new shortstop’s wherewithal that he named Bancroft the team captain in his first year with the Giants.

Dave Bancroft was one of the Braves' few bright spots in that era.
Dave Bancroft was one of the Braves'
few bright spots in that era. As the
club's manager, his chief
asset was himself.

Recognition had not always come so quickly, though, for David James “Beauty” Bancroft (1891-1972). He languished in the minors for six years before his first big-league opportunity with the 1915 Phillies.

Even then he was still so unpolished a hitter that he batted crosshanded. The Phils, a sixth-place team in 1914, reluctantly threw him into the breach and were rewarded at the season’s end with the first pennant in team history. Manager Pat Moran publicly acclaimed Bancroft the key to the club’s success.

Although the Phils did not win again during Bancroft’s sojourn with them, he improved both at bat and in the field so that by the late 1910s he was rated the top all-around shortstop in the National League. Perhaps his two greatest assets were his outstanding range and his skill at working the hit-and-run play.

Upon coming to the Giants, Bancroft was installed in the No. 2 slot in the batting order, behind George Burns, one of the best leadoff men in the game. With such outstanding hitters as Frankie Frisch, Ross Youngs, Irish Meusel, and George Kelly following him, Bancroft began to see better pitches and blossomed accordingly at the plate.

It was with his glove, however, that Dave made his reputation. In 1922, he topped the senior circuit in both putouts and assists and set a major-league record that still stands by accepting 984 fielding chances. At the close of the following season, after playing in his third straight World Series with the Giants, Bancroft was traded to the Boston Braves. Before making the swap, McGraw privately arranged for his shortstop to become the Boston player-manager in 1924.

A natural leader, Bancroft seemed the ideal choice to lead the Braves out of the doldrums. The Braves, though, finished dead last in 1924 and fared little better in the next three seasons under Bancroft’s guidance. At the end of 1927, Dave was sold to Brooklyn. He closed his career in 1930 by serving as a player-coach with the Giants. Bancroft was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971.

Here are Dave Bancroft's major league totals:

BA G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
.2791,9137,1821,0482,0043207732591145

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