Jim Davenport was a Giant playing with giants. But he didn’t need a nickname like “Peanut” to stand out from that crowd.
Making his big league debut on April 15, 1958, Davenport was an original San Francisco Giant and a Bay Area favorite during an era that saw such future-HOF’ers as Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry and Willie McCovey take the field at Candlestick Park. A smooth-fielding third baseman who led the league at his position in fielding percentage three years straight (1959-61), he took home a Gold Glove along with an All-Star selection in 1962. He would go on to spend more games manning the hot corner than any other Giant.
Perhaps more impressive than this was the fact that Davenport spent more than 50 years of his life with the same team, working as a coach and manager with San Francisco after he retired as a player in 1970. With brief stops in Philadelphia, Cleveland and Detroit, Davenport had spent the rest of his baseball career with San Francisco. He also worked as a scout, a minor-league instructor and a rover during Spring Training with the Giants, as well as in the front office.
He reportedly found his greatest fulfillment in working the minor leagues, talking with the prospects, passing on what he’d learned, and sharing stories of his days as a player during San Francisco’s formative years as a Major-League city.
In 1981, his son Gary would be drafted by the Giants in the 27th round. He would play three seasons in the minors, then coach in the organization starting in 2004, until being chosen to manage the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the Northwest League in 2013. Gary was the hitting coach for San Jose of the California League in 2005, when they won the league championship and set team records for batting average (.295), doubles (292) and home runs (143).
Jim Davenport died on February 18th of heart failure at age 82 in Redwood City, California, leaving behind his wife Betty, and his children, Cathy, Gary, Ken, Don and Randy.