In late September the news broke that Union, La., native, New Orleans University alumnus and Chicago American Giants great “Gentleman” Dave Malarcher will be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame next June!
I did a little blog post at the time, and this honor for one of the most underrated — and, I feel, the most under-appreciated — figures in Negro League history. In addition to being a learned poet, scholar, World War I veteran and all-around Renaissance man, Dave was polite and courteous to a fault, with sportsmanship being his top priority on the diamond.
However, Dave was also a fierce competitor who took the lessons he learned from the one and only Rube Foster and guided the American Giants to multiple pennants and Negro World Series crowns.
Malarcher’s selection for the LSHOF comes on the heels of his induction into the New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year.
The news of Dave’s selection for the next LSHOF class quickly spread through his family, both in his native St. James Parish and across the country. So it wasn’t a surprise when, a few weeks ago, I got a call from one of Malarcher’s grand-nephews, Alvin Malarcher, who settled in Tacoma, Wash., after a career in the Air Force.
It turns out that Alvin is bursting at the seams with joy at the latest news and pride in his grand-uncle.
“It’s wonderful,” Alvin told me. “He served our country, and I think it’s a great honor for him.”
He added, “Oh my goodness, I’m very proud of him, and not only me, but the entire family! I never even though about [his uncle being honored]. And now he’s being elected for another hall of fame. This is really just another great, great honor for the family.”
Gentleman Dave and his wife, Mabel, never had children of their own, but his siblings — there was a bunch of them — had kids, and their kids had kids, resulting in Dave and Mabel being blessed with many grand-nieces and-nephews. While some of those youngsters never had much chance to get to know or even meet their grand-uncle, they grew to know and cherish the legacy he left.
After his baseball career, Dave and Mabel Malarcher settled in Chicago, where Dave owned a very successful real estate business and because active in the community, fighting for fairness in housing in the Windy City.
In all, I really wish I could have met the ever-humble Gentleman Dave Malarcher — he reminds me of my grandfather, who was my absolute hero. The knowledge and wisdom Dave imparted throughout his baseball career and his wife is priceless and treasured, at least by his family and this humble researcher and journalist. 🙂
Alvin Malarcher is so psyched about Dave’s induction into that institution that he’s virtually booked flights for himself and his wife to Louisiana for the ceremony in June. “Oh, yes, I’m going,” he says with a giddy laugh.
What’s more, he says several of his children and siblings — from places like New York and Minnesota — might accompany him. There’s already a bunch of Malarchers in St. James Parish who are planning on chugging up to Natchitoches for the event.
Alvin told me in the recent conversation that Gentleman Dave’s story reflects “what we are capable of” as people in terms of education, military service and success in our careers. He, and the rest of his family, holds Dave up as a role model for all of them to aspire to.
“All I can say is the Malarcher family thinks this is just an honor and what our grand-uncle has established for us,” Alvin says.
He adds, “This is something really special. I really don’t know what to expect [at the June LSHOF ceremony]. I’m just so happy for our Uncle Dave and for our family.”