Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday School: History Lesson 21

Dave Bancroft, a Hall of Famer, played shortstop for the Phillies from 1915-1920. Veteran Phils shortstop Mickey Doolan had left to play in the Federal League in 1914, and the team was without a suitable replacement, so they summoned Bancroft from Portland of the Pacific Coast League. Critics asserted that he wouldn't be able to handle big league pitching, but Phillies manager Pat Moran felt, foremost, that he needed a solid defender.

Not a big offensive threat, Bancroft's best season at the plate for the Phillies came in 1917, when he hit .243 with 4 homers and 43 RBI. Bancroft had great range and soft hands, however, which was just what Moran wanted. Bancroft led all National League shortstops in total chances for 3 straight seasons.

In 1919, after four good seasons anchoring the middle of the Phillies infield, Bancroft was sent a contract to sign, calling for a pay decrease. This did not sit well, and he instead asked for a trade to another team. He got that wish a year later, when he was sent to the Giants for aging shortstop Art Fletcher and pitcher Bill Hubble, plus cash. The money may have assisted with the Phillies' bills, but the trade still proved to be awful.

Bancroft would quickly remind displeased Phillies phans of his own worth. Only three weeks after the trade, Bancroft would return to Philadelphia with the visiting Giants and went 6-for-6 at the plate. Bancroft turned his offensive game up after leaving our Phillies and would go on to have a batting average of .298 or higher 8 times. Bancroft went on to win 3 straight NL pennants with the Giants. To completely prove the trade unbalanced, Fletcher was 35 years old and would only play one more season in the Majors, before turning to managing. Hubbell was never a solid pitcher, and his win-loss record over five seasons with the Phillies was 27-55.

Prior to the 1924 season, Bancroft was traded again, this time to the Boston Braves, where he would play and manage. Three straight losing season with the Braves got him fired, however, but at age 37, he could still play. Dave went on the play two more full seasons with the Brooklyn Robins. Bancroft was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans' Committee in 1971.

BallHype: hype it up!

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