Gentleman Dave Malarcher


"Best manager I ever saw? Malarcher, because he was an intelligent man and was understanding."

--All-Star Third Baseman Alec Radcliffe

Quoted from Voices from the Great Black Baseball Leagues by John Holway.
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Negro Leaguer of the Month
March, 2002

Dave Malarcher

Position: third base, manager
Career: 1915-1934
Teams:
Indianapolis ABCs, Detroit Stars, Columbia Giants, Cole's American Giants, Chicago American Giants,

HT: 5'-8"; WT: 145 lbs
Batted both; threw right
Born:
October 18, 1895 in Whitehall, Louisiana
Died: May 11, 1982 in Chicago

Dave Malarcher is one of the truly classy gentelman in baseball history. He didn't swear, drink or smoke, and he loved to read and write poetry, hence his nickname "Gentleman Dave."

On the field, though, Malarcher played hard, slid with spikes flying high, and, most of all, played to win.

Malarcher grew up in Louisiana where his father worked on a plantation. Malarcher's mother had been born into slavery. Young Dave picked cotton to help the family make ends meet, and every free minute was spent playing baseball.

Malarcher initially batted cross-handed (batting right-handed he held the bat with his right hand on the bottom) before being taught the correct way--something Hank Aaron was guilty of 40 years later.

Malarcher's family encouraged Dave in his studies and he attended the University of New Orleans where he was the captain of the baseball team. He also attended Xavier and Dillard University.

Malarcher started his Black Big League career as a third baseman with the Indianapolis ABCs in 1915. Malarcher was switch hitting slash hitter and expert bunter, who set the table for big hitters such as Oscar Charleston and Louis Santop.

Malarcher stayed with the ABCs for a few years, then had a quick stint with the Detroit Stars before he landed with the Chicago American Giants and his mentor Rube Foster in 1920. Malarcher credits Foster with making him into one of the greatest managers in Negro League history.

In 1920 Malarcher batted .344 and led the American Giants to the league championship. The American Giants won again in '21 and '22 with Malarcher being a key player.

When Negro League fans discuss the famed running and bunting game of Rube Foster's teams, they are talking precisely about players like Malarcher. Usually Malarcher batted around .275 with a lot of stolen bases and runs scored.

As great of a player as Gentleman Dave was, he was an even greater manager--some think better than Rube Foster himself.

He was soft spoken but fully in charge, and he won the respect of all who played for him. In 9 years leading the American Giants, Malarcher made the playoffs 6 times, and won 2 Negro League World Series championships.

Sunset Before Dawn
by Dave Malarcher

Thou wert among the best
Who wrought upon this earth,
O, dead! Thine endless rest
Is merit of thy worth...

O, minds of fleetful thought!
O dead who lived too soon!
What pity thou wert brought
To twilight ere the noon!

But sleep thou on in peace,
As orchids which did bloom,
Like pure unspotted fleece
Within the forest's gloom.


©David Malarcher 1975


Quoted from Voices from the Great Black Baseball Leagues
by John Holway.
Click here to buy this book.