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David Julius Malarcher
(Gentleman Dave, Cap, Preacher)
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 5' 7", Weight 148 lb.
- School Dillard University, Xavier University of Louisiana
Dave Malarcher was a Negro League player and manager for a total of 20 years. He was known primarily for his time with the Chicago American Giants; his combination of speed, defense and small ball skills personified the style of the American Giants of the era. As a manager, his clubs won two Negro World Series. Known for his friendly personality, Bill James labels him (along with Buck O'Neil as one of two Negro Leaguers who was a better man than a ballplayer. James also rates Malarcher as the #5 third baseman in Negro League history, behind only Ray Dandridge, Judy Johnson, Oliver Marcelle and Jud Wilson.
The youngest of 10 children, Dave's mother had been a slave and his father worked on a sugar plantation. Malarcher was a catcher for the Baby T's in his youth, then played baseball during the summers of 1912-1916 with the New Orleans Black Eagles, a minor black baseball team. It was at this point that he became a switch-hitter. He was also attending college during this time.
1916-1919: Early pro career, military service
After college, Malarcher signed with the Indianapolis ABCs late in 1916. He hit .275/.339/.373 in 18 games, taking over second base for Bingo DeMoss. Playing mostly right field in 1917, he hit just .258, but this was the Deadball Era and he tied Leroy Grant for third among western black teams. He also tied for third with 7 doubles. He played a few exhibition games against white players that fall, going 1 for 4 when facing pitchers from Major League Baseball.
1920-1928: Chicago the first time
Malarcher joined Chicago in 1920 and batted .255 while taking over third base. He slipped to .198/.295/.233 the next year, helped by the large park Chicago played in. He fielded .909 at third base. He went 0 for 13 in post-season play.
Dave was only used in a part-time role due to torn ligaments in his heart (he was told not to play at all) in 1922, hitting .205/.295/.231 while backing up DeMoss at second base and John Beckwith at third. He did go 4 for 11 in post-season play. In an exhibition game against Babe Ruth and Jack Quinn, he was 0 for 4.
Malarcher hit .304/.383/.411 in a rebound year in 1923, playing more as Beckwith moved to first base. Dave stole 14 bases in 78 games. Hitting 7th for Chicago, he finished 10th in the Negro National League in OBP. Dave was known for fouling off pitches in order to try to coax a walk at times. That fall, Chicago played the Detroit Tigers and Dave went 4 for 11.
The third sacker hit .298 in 1924 as Chicago finally fell from first. He hit third that year and led the NNL with 20 steals. When DeMoss left the club in 1925, Malarcher took his spot at second base and became the team captain. He led them in hitting that year at .325, far from the league leaders in the Live ball Era.
When Rube Foster had a nervous breakdown, Malarcher became the American Giants' manager in 1926, guiding them to a 57-23 finish, second-best in the NNL. When told he was a better manager than Foster, Malarcher said he simply was following Rube's practices and teachings. He hit .259 while returning to his old third base position. He hit .308 in a postseason matchup with the Kansas City Monarchs. Malarcher only hit .188 in the 1926 Negro World Series but he came up big in game seven, helping Chicago take the series 5 games to 4. In that contest, he legged out a grounder to the mound with one out and the score tied in the bottom of the ninth, then stole second. He took third on a passed ball and scored on a hit by Johnny Hines.
Dave slipped to .266 in 1927 and Chicago slipped to 54-28 but they finished first this time. He hit .333 in the playoffs. Dave hit .214 in a 5-3-1 victory by Chicago in the 1927 Negro World Series. In both the 1926 and 1927 Series, Dave had the most steals on the speedy club.
Chicago finished 45-37 in 1928 and Malarcher missed 10 days after fracturing a bone in his shoulder. He hit .246 in limited playing time that year, then batted only .167 as Chicago fall in the playoffs.
1929-1931: On his own
After the 1928 campaign, Malarcher and owner William Trimble got into a financial dispute and Dave left Chicago to form his own independent club, the Columbia Giants.
1932-1936: Back in Chicago
In 1932, Robert Cole bought the American Giants and brought back Malarcher to manage. He guided the team to a 52-31 record and the Negro Southern League title. He still played, but rarely. The American Giants again finished first in 1933 with a 36-17 mark. They went 30-30 in 1934 and Malarcher got to manage for the West in the 1934 East-West Game. He hit .260 as a player-manager in 1935, manning second on a star-studded infield of Mule Suttles, Willie Wells and Alec Radcliff. Chicago was just 18-24 and they followed with a 5-4 record the next year as a non-league entry. In 1937, Candy Jim Taylor replaced him at the helm. According to Donn Rogosin, he "could no longer accept the endless hours of riding dilapidated buses through a countryside not always benign."
After he retired from baseball, Malarcher ran a real estate company and became a published poet.
- The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley
- The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway
- Invisible Men by Donn Rogosin
- The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract
- research by Gary Ashwill
- 1923 Negro National League Yearbook, by Peter Ventura and Patrick Rock, Replay Publishing