Peanut deserves recognition

This Friday, 44 Alabamians will vote to honor some of our own with placement in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

Shelby County has a vested interest in this vote, for one of OUR own, Jim &uot;Peanut&uot; Davenport has made it to the final vote.

Peanut’s story is a great one.

A graduate of Thompson High School in Alabaster, he was a member of the original San Francisco Giants and served as one of the National League’s premier third basemen from 1958 to 1970.

He played with Willie Mays, for goodness’ sake.

During high school, he excelled at both baseball and football, earning All-State Quarterback honors during his senior year.

Following high school, he planned to attend the University of Alabama on a football scholarship, going head-to-head with Bart Starr for the position of quarterback.

Peanut chose a different path, however, marrying during his senior year, thus eliminating his eligibility for a UA scholarship.

He then received a football scholarship to the University of Southern Mississippi, where was a standout in both baseball and football.

During his senior year at USM, he signed a contract to play baseball with the new San Francisco team, formerly the New York Giants.

Highlights of Peanut’s career with the Giants included being noted as the Best Bunter Around (he topped the National League with 17 sacrifices in 1958); leading the National League in fielding percentages in 1959-1961; starting four double plays as a third baseman during the 1962 World Series, an amazing record which still stands; and establishing the league record for consecutive errorless games by a third baseman, 97, from July 1966 to April 1968.

Peanut won the Golden Glove Award in 1962 and was also voted by Giants fans as third baseman on the All-Time San Francisco Giants Dream Team.

He currently serves as special assistant, roving minor league hitting instructor and advance scout for the Giants organization.

Since retiring from playing the game, he has coached with four ball clubs including San Francisco, San Diego, Philadelphia and Detroit, although the majority of his career has been spent with the Giants.

He has served as coach, manager, hitting instructor, third base coach, defensive strategist and observer and advance scout.

Peanut Davenport is clearly an Alabama and Shelby County triumph.

Shelby County and Thompson High School already acknowledge his accomplishments, as the baseball field at the school is named for him, although I wonder how many of the players are aware of who he is.

At age 69, it is well past time for him to take his place among the other sports greats who have come from the state of Alabama.

If you know some of those who will vote on the members of the Hall of Fame, I encourage you to get in touch with them.

Following are names of some of the 44 who will vote: Scott Adamson of Pell City, Ronnie Crabtree of Ft. Payne, Ron Edwards of Birmingham, Therman Greene of Oxford, Bob Kennamer of Anniston, Lynne Petro of Birmingham, Joe Dean Jr. of Birmingham, Jimmy Hinton of Tuscaloosa, Ray Melick of Birmingham, Dr. E.C. Brock of Tuscaloosa, Paul Finebaum (of radio fame) of Birmingham, Gene Hallman of Birmingham, John Stallworth of Brownsboro, Chris Stewart of Hoover, Herb Winches of Birmingham and Phil Snow of Montgomery.

If you know any of these people or any of the others voting on the Hall of Fame, give them a call.

Let’s get together and make sure Peanut receives the honor he is due.

Candace Parker is the news editor for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at mailto:candace.parker@shelbycountyreporter.com