Jacob “Jake” Ellsworth Daubert was born on April 7, 1884, in Shamokin, Pennsylvania to Jacob and Sarah Daubert. When he was 11 years old, he began to work in an area coal mine, joining his father and two brothers, Irwin and Calvin.
In 1906, at 22, he signed as a pitcher with a semi-professional team in Lykens, Pennsylvania, 45 miles from his hometown, before latching on with the professional Kane Mountaineers in the Iron State League that same year. He converted to a first baseman, gaining accolades for his fielding acumen throughout his career.
He returned to Kane in 1907 for 42 games before moving to the Marion Moguls in the Ohio-Pennsylvania League later in the season.
The Cleveland Indians gave Daubert a tryout in 1908 before being released to Nashville in the Southern Association for more seasoning. It was a particular season for the newly named Vols. The ballclub would win the pennant by one game, won on the season’s final day against the New Orleans Pelicans by a score of 1-0.
Sportswriter Grantland Rice would immortalize the game by naming it The Greatest Game Ever Played in Dixie.
Daubert would play an excellent game by making ten putouts and one assist in the only double play. He finished the season with a .262 batting average.
He moved to Toledo and Memphis the following season before beginning his major league career with Brooklyn. He spent nine seasons with the Superbas-Dodgers-Robins and participated in the 1913 Cuban-American Major League Clubs Series. It was that season his fielding prowess began to be recognized.
Baseball Magazine reported, “Jake Daubert is easily one of the greatest infielders baseball has ever seen. Flashing and sensational like Chase, he is, unlike Chase, never erratic, never prone to sudden error, never sulky or indifferent in his play.” The magazine author admitted that Chase was the most sensational first baseman who ever lived, but in his prime doubts he was more valuable than Daubert. He concluded that Daubert is “universally popular, he is the most valuable first sacker playing the game.”
His batting improved in the majors, as Daubert won two National League records batting titles in 1913 with a .350 average and 1914 at .329. In 1919, he led the league in triples with 15, and in singles two seasons, 146 in 1911 and 152 in 1913.
He was named the 1913 National League Most Valuable Player.
Daubert was a popular figure on and off the field. He was likable but also respected and was even nominated to run for Brooklyn alderman. Though he lost that vote, he replaced Ty Cobb as Vice President of the Baseball Players Fraternity after being elected by fellow ballplayers.
He was captain of Brooklyn during their first World Series appearance in 1916 when they lost to the Boston Red Sox. He invested his winnings from Brooklyn’s 1916 post-season payout in a cigar company, a poolroom, and a semi-pro baseball team and in ice and moving picture businesses. The biggest moneymaker of his ventures was a coal washery in his hometown of Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania.
Traded to Cincinnati on February 1, 1919, after a dispute with Brooklyn owner Charles Ebbets, his career continued to flourish. He led the league in games played, 140, and sacrifice bunts with 39. He was named captain of the Reds, helping lead them to their first World Championship later that year when they won over the Chicago White Sox, remembered for the Black Sox Scandal in the second best-of-nine World Series.
The 5’10”, 160-pound lefthander remained with the Reds through the 1924 season, leading the league in games played again in 1922 with 156 and triples in 1922 with 22. His final season was 1924. He was beaned in a game early in the season and suffered from headaches and difficulty sleeping.
Doctors operated on Daubert on October 2 for what they thought was appendicitis and gallstones, and he never recovered. On October 9, he passed away after disobeying his doctor’s orders and playing in Cincinnati’s last game of the season in New York. He was 40 years old.
Daubert was buried in Charles Baber Cemetery near his home in Schuylkill.
Note: The author referred to Jim Sandovahl’s excellent biography of Daubert, published by SABR (Society for American Baseball Research as part of the SABR Bio-Project found here: https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/jake-daubert/; accessed January 31, 2024.
© 2024 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.