Jim Davenport, who played third base for the Giants for his entire 13-year career and managed the team briefly in 1985, died on Thursday night from heart failure. He was 82.
Davenport was a defensive wizard, winning the Gold Glove in 1962. According to Total Baseball's Biographical Encyclopedia he "received an even warmer welcome from Bay Area fans than did star Willie Mays," in part because he was a rookie in the team's inaugural 1958 season. His best season with the bat was also in '62, when he hit .297 with a career-high 14 home runs and was named to the All-Star team. He was a member of the Giants' first set of Wall of Fame inductees, honored in 2008.
After retiring in 1970, he managed the Phoenix Giants for three years, eventually becoming the third-base coach for seven years. He started the regrettable 1985 season as the manager, leading the team to a 56-88 record before being replaced unexpectedly by Roger Craig. Davenport would eventually return to the Giants in 1996 as the first-base coach, and he would also manage the Fresno Grizzlies to a first-place finish in 1998.
The Giants released a statement about Davenport's passing:
The Giants family was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Jim Davenport last night in Redwood City due to heart failure.
Davenport, 82, played all 13 seasons of his Major League career in a Giants uniform from 1958-1970. He was a member of the original 1958 San Francisco Giants and spent 51 seasons in the organization, having played, coached and managed at both the Major and minor league levels.
The Siluria, Alabama native posted a .258 lifetime batting average in 1,501 Major League contests. He earned All-Star status and a Gold Glove in 1962 and was voted by the fans as the third baseman on the Giants’ 25th Anniversary Dream Team in 1982.
"The passing of Jim Davenport brings great sadness to our organization," said Laurence Baer, Giants President & Chief Executive Officer. "Jim had a wonderful spirit and was a great Giant. We will always remember Davvy. We express our deepest condolences to his family and will have them in our thoughts and prayers."
Davenport is survived by his wife, Betty, daughter Cathy, sons Randy, Ken, Don and Gary.
Rest in peace, Jim Davenport, and best wishes to his family.