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Building Legends by Remembering Legends

‘Gentleman Dave’ became legendary In Negro Leagues

Published: Thursday, June 16, 2016 12:00 pm By: Ryan Whirty Source: LSWA
unassuming nature, someone who didn’t seek the limelight and who remained content to simply help his teams win championships.

But even more so, Malarcher — who passed away in Chicago in 1982 at the age of 81 — was a sort of Renaissance man in the annals of Negro League baseball — a college graduate, a World War I veteran, a scholar, a poet, an activist, a slick-fielding third baseman, a championship-winning manager.

Once he arrived in the Windy City in the early 1920s, Malarcher began accruing a reputation as a polite, gracious, heady, gallant player who, at the same time, possessed the fiery spirit and competitive gusto that marked Negro Leagues play.

That combination of intelligence, exuberance and hardball instinct earned Malarcher the role of star pupil to the legendary Andrew “Rube” Foster, who had evolved from a star pitcher in the early 20th century into a team owner, manager and founder of the first Negro National League in 1920. Rube Foster was a towering figure in the world of blackball, and Gentleman Dave Malarcher earned his stars at the foot of the master.

“If you mentioned Aristophanes, Pericles, Sophocles, Thucydides, Euripides of Socrates, this scholar knew of their talents,” said Larry Lester, an author, historian and 2016 recipient of the prestigious Harry Chadwick Award for excellence in baseball research. “Off the playing field, Julius was known for his prose and philosophy.

“Rube’s star student had the gentle demeanor of a lap dog, but had a Rottweiler appetite to win,” Lester added. “Malarcher had the purity of Black Moses, the tenacity of Black America and sanctity of Black Madonna.”

A clutch hitter and speedster, Malarcher tormented opposing pitchers during his playing days, while also flashing the leather at the hot corner. But perhaps more importantly, he quickly absorbed Foster’s lessons in baseball strategy and acumen, picking up the legend’s love of what would be called “small ball” today.

After inheriting the managerial reins of the American Giants from Foster in 1926, Malarcher proceeded to lead the squad to multiple NNL titles as well as two straight Negro World Series crowns. His accomplishments made him one of the most widely respected figures in black baseball.

Malarcher’s climb to the pinnacles of African-American baseball began in 1894, when he was born in rural St. James Parish to a farming family. It was David’s mother who encouraged the youth to value education and learning.

That nurturing nature led Malarcher to the Crescent City, where he attended New Orleans University (a precursor to modern-day Dillard University), from which he graduated in 1916 and where he led the NOU baseball squad to an undefeated record over an eye-popping four seasons.

Those academic experiences
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