David James Bancroft
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9½", Weight 160 lb.
- High School Central High School (Sioux City)
- Debut April 14, 1915
- Final Game May 31, 1930
- Born April 20, 1891 in Sioux City, IA USA
- Died October 9, 1972 in Superior, WI USA
"Honus Wagner's successor as the National League's premier shortstop." - from Bancroft's SABR biography
". . . known for his intelligence on the field and his fiery leadership in the dugout . . . Bancroft is still considered to be among the top fielders in baseball history." - from Dave Bancroft's Hall of Fame website
Hall of Famer Dave Bancroft was a spark plug and team captain of the great New York Giants teams that won the pennant each year from 1921-1923. His assist and putout totals during the early 1920s are some of the highest of all time, and he was the first shortstop to turn 100 double plays in a season. While his batting was not as impressive as his fielding, his career Adjusted OPS+ is better than Hall of Fame shortstops Joe Tinker, Rabbit Maranville, Phil Rizzuto, Luis Aparicio, Ozzie Smith and John Ward, and he had more hits than Hall of Fame shortstops Lou Boudreau and Travis Jackson.
He was among the league leaders in walks eight separate times, was one of the league leaders in singles four times, doubles three times, triples once and home runs once. He was four times in the top three in the league in runs scored. And he was good with teams other than the Giants - he was twice in the top ten in MVP voting while playing for Boston teams in 1925-1926 that finished well under .500. As a rookie with the 1915 Phillies, he was second in the league in walks and and third in the league in runs scored, lifting the Phillies from a sixth-place finish in 1914 to a first-place finish in 1915.
Dave was born in Sioux City, IA, in 1891. After playing in the minors starting in 1909, he broke into the major leagues in 1915 with the Philadelphia Phillies, the year they played in their first World Series, hitting .254 in 153 games as a rookie. Bancroft played shortstop for the Phillies until 1920 when he was traded to the New York Giants at mid-season. He played for the Giants until the end of the 1923 season, when he was traded to the Boston Braves. With the Giants, Bancroft was part of the 1921 and 1922 World Series-winning team, hitting .318 in 153 games in 1921 and .321 in 156 games in 1922 as the team's regular shortstop; those were his two best seasons in the majors. Bancroft was a player-manager for the Braves for four seasons from 1924 until 1927. He then went to play for the Brooklyn Robins in 1928 and 1929. He ended his career in 1930, back with the Giants, and was a coach with the club from 1930 until 1932.
Bancroft was a career .279 hitter, and never hit more than seven home runs or drove in more than 67 runs in a season. His biggest accomplishments were his postseason success as a member of the 1921 and 1922 World Series champion Giants teams. He set a major league single-season record in 1922 by handling 984 total chances at shortstop. He was, in fact, a very fine defensive player who led National League shortstops four times in putouts. He was also very durable, playing over 100 games in 13 seasons, including a league-leading 156 in 1922.
Election to the Hall
Bancroft was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 31, 1971 by the Veterans Committee. He is considered one of the most controversial players in the Hall, with many attributing his election to the presence of cronies on the Veterans Committee, notably former Giants teammate Frankie Frisch, rather than his baseball achievements. Most players with similar statistics do not have much of a chance of being elected to the Hall of Fame.
That is just one side of the argument, though. The other side of the argument is that Bancroft was the Ozzie Smith of his era - except he was Ozzie's equal in fielding but a better hitter. While Ozzie's record-setting assist total in 1980 (in 158 games) beat anything Bancroft (or anyone else) accomplished, Bancroft's assist totals in 1920 and 1922 both beat Ozzie's second-best season. And Bancroft's third-best is almost exactly the same as Ozzie's third-best season. As far as hitting, Bancroft's best single-season Adjusted OPS+ of 120 easily beats Ozzie's best of 112, and Bancroft's lifetime Adjusted OPS+ bests the lifetime score of several shortstop Hall of Famers such as Ozzie, Joe Tinker, Rabbit Maranville, Luis Aparicio, Phil Rizzuto and John Ward, not to mention defensive whiz and Hall of Fame second baseman Bill Mazeroski. And, Bancroft's score is only one point short of Hall of Fame shortstop Pee Wee Reese's score.
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 3 (1920-1922)
- 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1922)
- Won two World Series with the New York Giants (1921 & 1922)
- Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1971
|Boston Braves Manager
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
|1924||Boston Braves||National League||53-100||8th||Boston Braves|
|1925||Boston Braves||National League||70-83||5th||Boston Braves|
|1926||Boston Braves||National League||66-86||7th||Boston Braves|
|1927||Boston Braves||National League||60-94||7th||Boston Braves|
|1933||Minneapolis Millers||American Association||86-67||2nd||none||Lost League Finals|
|1936||Sioux City Cowboys||Western League||5th||none||none||replaced Marty Berghammer|
|1947||St. Cloud Rox||Northern League||48-71||7th||New York Giants|
|1949||South Bend Blue Sox||AAGPBL||75-36||1st (t)||none||Lost League Finals|
|1950||South Bend Blue Sox||AAGPBL||55-55||5th||none|
- Fielding chances by a shortstop, season: 984 (1922)
- Tom Alesia: Beauty at Short: Dave Bancroft, the Most Unlikely Hall of Famer and His Wild Times in Baseball’s First Century, Grissom Press, 2022. ISBN 978-0-5783-7451-2