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Multiple Years / George Davis - Vanishing Baseball Superstar
George Stacey Davis was one of the finest shortstops in Major League Baseball history. He enjoyed a 20-year MLB career from 1890 through 1909. Blessed with a strong arm and an excellent batting eye, Davis was a perennial star for the New York Giants during the late 19th and early 20th century. A switch-hitter, Davis compiled 2,688 career hits and 615 stolen bases. He still holds the Giants' club record for the longest hitting streak (36 games). So valuable was Davis to the Giants that he became one of the controversial figures in the war between the National and American Leagues when he jumped to the Chicago White Stockings of the AL in 1902. Once Davis' playing career ended, he coached Amherst College's baseball team, managed a bowling alley, and sold automobiles for a time. Then he vanished. For decades many noteworthy baseball historians rated Davis as the best player not in the Hall of Fame--and no one seemed to know what had happened to him. In 1968, Lee Allen, the historian at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, wrote an article for The Sporting News in which he asked for any information about Davis' later years and death. A woman claiming to be Davis' niece replied. She put Allen in touch with Davis' estranged sister who suggested Allen should check the records of state hospitals in Pennsylvania. Allen eventually found Davis' death certificate. He had died in a Philadelphia mental institution in 1940 at the age of 70. He had lived there for six years, suffering from the effects of syphilis. Records showed his wife paid $41 to have him quickly interred in a pauper's grave. In 1998 Davis was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans' Committee. For the only time in the Hall of Fame's history, no living relative could be found to accept a deceased inductee's plaque at the induction ceremony, although 50 fans from Davis' hometown of Cohoes, NY were present. The purchase of a handsome headstone for Davis' previously unmarked grave was financed by the Society for American Baseball Research shortly after Davis was enshrined in Cooperstown.