Teams: Cleveland (NL), 1890-1892; New York Giants, 1893-1901, 1903; Chicago White Sox, 1902, 1904-1909
It was because George Davis (1870-1940) was such an excellent player that he became the center of an ugly battle between baseball's powers during the early days of the American League. And it was probably because of that battle that he was not granted Hall of Fame recognition until 58 years after his death and almost 90 after his retirement from baseball.
George Davis caused a stir when
he jumped to the American League
for the 1902 season.
Davis moved to shortstop in 1897, though it didn't affect his hitting. That year, he batted .353, drove in a league-high 136 runs and finished second in homers and fifth in slugging percentage. In every season from then through 1901 he topped the .300 mark.
During that time, he also served as the Giants' skipper, for part of the 1895 season and then again in 1900 and 1901. In summary, he was the premier shortstop of his era, with fielding averages at or near the top to accompany his stellar batting and power numbers.
In 1902, Davis (like many others) jumped to the American League, as a member of the White Sox, where his average fell one point shy of the .300 level, the lowest it had been in nine years. His problems occurred after the 1902 season.
He realized that owner Charlie Comiskey was not a generous person and wished to return to the NL Giants for the 1903 season. But peace between the two leagues was declared in 1903, and Davis was told to return to the Sox. He refused and took baseball to court, with John Montgomery Ward as his attorney. The case was dismissed in July, and Davis was forced to spend his final six seasons with Comiskey's team.
Two events helped propel Davis to the Hall of Fame status he richly deserved. The Society for American Baseball Research made him the cover story of their 1997 edition of The National Pastime. A week before the Veterans Committee met in 1998, New York Times columnist Dave Anderson followed SABR's lead and wrote a column extolling Davis for the Hall. The committee voted him in that year.
Here are George Davis' major league totals:
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