Friday, February 19, 2016

Jim Davenport RIP

If there ever was a Giant for life, it was Jim Davenport.  Make that a San Francisco Giant for life.  Jim Davenport's rookie season coincided with the Giants first season in San Francisco.  He was a slick fielding third baseman who might have been a bigger star if defensive metrics were tracked back in his day the way they are now.  He could hit, but was not a guy who was known for his hitting.  By the time I became aware of Major League Baseball and the Giants and started listening to games, Davenport had lost his starting 3B job to the stronger hitting Jim Ray Hart and was more of a utility player.  Still, he got in his share of games and I have fond memories of listening to Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons describe his exploits on the field.

There are two things I remember about Jim Davenport from those days:  1.  I've always equated him with a .250 batting average, because that is what he always seemed to be hitting, and in fact, that is very close to his career BA.  He did seem to get more than his share of clutch hits out of that rather mediocre BA, though.  2. Speaking of clutch, I remember a pre or postgame interview with Lon where Davenport attributed much of his ability to stick in the major leagues to his success against the Dodgers, especially in his rookie season.  I looked up his team splits in B-R an sure enough, he hit 17 of his 77 career HR's against the Dodgers.

Jim Davenport went on to become a coach and minor league manager in the Giants system.  He was named manager for the 1985 season by his old teammate turned GM Tom Haller.  Unfortunately, the Giants hit rock bottom in 1985 and both Haller and Davenport got axed in an organizational housecleaning late that season.  Al Rosen and Roger Craig turned the Giants around, but in fairness, some of their success was due to players acquired while Haller was the GM including Will Clark.  At the time of their firings, it was whispered that Davenport was maybe too nice to manage a major league team and maybe Haller was too cozy with his cronies from his playing days.

Jim Davenport continued to work in various capacities for the Giants over the years and was a fixture at spring training.  It is ironic that he died on the first day of spring training this year.  Jim Davenport, Good Giant!


  1. 3 more Jim Davenport career stats: .299 BA against LHP's. .285 BA with RISP. .272 BA in High Leverage situations.

  2. Interesting to read what you and other articles have said about him. I remember him more as a coach and manager in the Giants system. Sounds like he was a solid player on Giants teams filled with great names. RIP Jim Davenport.


    1. Thanks LG. In addition, I always thought he had one of the more elegant names in baseball. Then, my grandmother always used to call the sofa in the living room the davenport. LOL! I always got a kick out of her calling a piece of furniture by the same name as a Giants player.

      In many ways, I think of Jim Davenport as being very similar to Matt Duffy, although Duffman may end up being the better hitter over the long haul. Davenport use to play some shortstop in his utility role and was a much better hitter than Hal Lanier. I always used to think the Giants should give up whatever advantage Lanier gave them on defense for the extra hitting they would get from Davenport playing SS with Jim Ray Hart at 3B.

  3. Working 51 years for the team, he was one of the keys to this idea of a Giants family, and creating a culture of play. Because of the continuity from working in old NY club's system but coming in fresh at SF probably helped, but he was probably one of the most consistently beloved members amongst the organization itself. We think of the Hall of Famers, but a fair amount of "the Giants way" if there is one, comes from Davenport.