- Bats Unknown, Throws Unknown
Frank Bancroft managed major league teams in nine seasons. He was perhaps the first American to head a baseball tour of Cuba, visiting there on December 21, 1879 with a club called the Hop Bitters, which beat a local squad. He was "business manager" for the Cincinnati Reds for 30 years, getting some credit for inventing "Opening Day" as a special event deserving of special hoopla.
Bancroft was born in 1846. He never played major league baseball, although one source calls him an early "legendary player". He would have been 25 when the National Association was formed in 1871. A second source claims he got his start organizing military games during the Civil War. A third source claims he got his start in professional baseball in 1878 when he managed the minor-league New Bedford, MA team in 1878. The source says he had run what became the "Bancroft House" in New Bedford starting in 1876, and also opened a roller rink in 1884 in the town. The team had a record of 83-44 in 1878 with the lowest payroll in the league.
He managed seven different teams in his nine years in the majors. Only twice did he manage more than a single season. He started with the 1880 Worcester Ruby Legs, who he managed the whole season to a record of 40-43. Even though the home field was a strong hitters' park, the pitching staff had a staff ERA of 2.27.
In 1881 and 1882 he managed the Detroit Wolverines the whole season each year. Both teams played roughly .500 ball. Several of his Worcester players came over to Detroit.
In 1883, he managed the 1883 Cleveland Blues the whole season to a record of 55-42. In 1884 and 1885, he managed the Providence Grays. In 1884, the team had a record of 84-28, and won the first post-season match-up that could be more-or-less considered a World Series. Charley Radbourn was his star pitcher, with 59 wins. In 1885, with many of the same stars, the team finished under .500.
In each of 1887, 1889, and 1902, Bancroft managed part of a season. In 1910 he managed a team of mostly major league players called the "All Nationals" in exhibition games after the regular season.
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
|1880||Worcester Ruby Legs||National League||40-43||5th|
|1881||Detroit Wolverines||National League||41-43||4th|
|1882||Detroit Wolverines||National League||42-41||6th|
|1883||Cleveland Blues||National League||55-42||4th|
|1884||Providence Grays||National League||84-48||1st||World Series Champs|
|1885||Providence Grays||National League||53-57||4th|
|1886||Rochester Maroons||International Association||replaced by Lon Knight|
|1887||Philadelphia Athletics||American Association||26-29||--||replaced by Charlie Mason on June 30|
|1889||Indianapolis Hoosiers||National League||25-43||--||replaced by Jack Glasscock on July 22|
|1902||Cincinnati Reds||National League||9-7||--||replaced Bid McPhee (27-37) on July 11|
replaced by Joe Kelley on July 31