11/29/12 11:14 AM ET
Bancroft started long line of great Phils shortstops
By Larry Shenk / Philadelphia Phillies
The parade actually began in 1915 when the Phillies played in their first World Series. A switch-hitting rookie named Dave "Beauty" Bancroft took over at shortstop that year.
Bancroft, 24, gave the Phillies outstanding defense. He was described as a graceful, sure-handed fielder and was known for his intelligence on the field and fiery leadership in the dugout. A leadoff hitter, Bancroft batted .254 in 1915 with a career-high seven home runs. In the World Series won by Boston, 4-1, he hit .294, far exceeding the Phillies' team average of .182.
Manager Pat Moran insisted that Bancroft was the difference between the pennant winners of 1915 and the sixth-place Phillies of 1914.
The first six years of a 16-year Major League career were spent with the Phillies from 1915-1920. After that, he played with the New York Giants (1920-23), Boston Braves (1924-27) as player-manager and Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers) (1928-29). He returned to the Giants as a player-coach in 1930 and retired after playing just 10 games. His record as the Braves manager was 249-363.
During his big league career, he led the National League in assists three times, putouts four times and fielding percentage once, his final season in a Phillies uniform.
He was traded to the Giants on June 8, 1920, for shortstop Art Fletcher, right-hander Bill Hubbell and $100,000. He was named captain of the Giants and played on three consecutive NL championship clubs starting in 1921. The Giants won the World Series that year and repeated in 1922. During those three years, he hit over .300.
When traded to the Giants, one of his new teammates asked Bancroft if he needed to go over the signs. According to a report, he asked, "Have they changed? If not, I already know them."
In 1922, he set a Major League record for most chances, 984, a record that still stands.
While in the Minor Leagues, Bancroft was nicknamed "Beauty" because of his habit of shouting "beauty" when his pitchers threw a good-looking pitch.
He spent seven seasons in the Minors, the last at Portland in 1914, when he hit .277 in 177 games. He was purchased by the Phillies after that season for $5,000.
Following his Major League career, he managed in the Minor Leagues and also managed an all-girls traveling team.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1971 and died a year later at age 81.
Larry Shenk is the vice president of alumni relations for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.