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Looking Back: Is Jake Daubert a Hall of Famer?

May 4, 2017

There have been two Nashville Vols players that continued their careers into the major leagues and were selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This pair is Waite Hoyt (1918) and Kiki Culyer (1923).   Hoyt was a pitcher and in his lone season with the Vols the 18-year-old appeared

There have been two Nashville Vols players that continued their careers into the major leagues and were selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This pair is Waite Hoyt (1918) and Kiki Culyer (1923).
   Hoyt was a pitcher and in his lone season with the Vols the 18-year-old appeared in 20 games with a 5-10 record, a 2.04 ERA, 51 strikeouts, a league-leading 16 complete games in 137 innings pitched. Cuyler, who was an outfielder, batted .340 with nine home runs, 108 RBIs, a league-leading 68 stolen bases in 149 games.
   Another former Nashville Vol player has been considered by many to be National Baseball Hall of Fame-worthy is Jake Daubert. Daubert also played just one year (1908) in Nashville; the first baseman batted .262 with six home runs in 138 games. He was part of the Vols historic Southern Association championship club that won the pennant on the final day of the season.
   Daubert was born on May 15, 1885 in Shamokin, Pa., where as a youth he began working in the coal mines as a breaker boy. He worked his way up to guiding one of the mules that hauled the coal out of the mine. On Sundays and holidays he'd play baseball with the local ball team where he was a decent pitcher.
   In 1906, the manager of the Lykens, Pa., ball club thought Daubert was good enough to take out of the coal mines and gave him a roster spot. However, the team would fail due to a lack of attendance and financial woes. Daubert was forced to work in the mines again joining his father and two brothers.
   The next spring, Daubert tried out with Kane in the Interstate League as a first baseman. He made the team, but again the team failed and couldn't finish the season. Instead of reverting back to the mines, Daubert landed a roster spot with Marion (Ohio-Pennsylvania League). He batted .299 with Kane and .283 in Marion where he finished the 1907 season.
   It was while Daubert was with Marion that he was noticed by a Cleveland Naps (American League) scout. Daubert's biggest obstacle in Cleveland was George Stovall the Naps solid first baseman. The left-handed batter failed to make the Naps roster and was sent to Nashville in the Southern Association.
   This report from a 1915 newspaper article describes Daubert's journey from Nashville to the big leagues:
   "There his fielding was all that could be desired but he didn't seem able to hit for a darn. He was especially poor at bat when the hits meant runs. In spite of Jake, Nashville landed the pennant that year and in the fall Cleveland recalled him to Toledo in 1909.
   "The leader of the Mud Hens couldn't see Daubert as he still failed to hit and he was chased to the Memphis team. While Daubert had hit only .186 in 35 games with Toledo, he got his eye on the ball when wearing a Memphis uniform and in 81 games hit .314.
   "Scout Larry Sutton, then sleuthing in the South for the Brooklyn Nationals, saw Daubert and wired Charley Ebbets that he had found the greatest first baseman in the game and advised that he be grabbed at once. The Brooklyn magnate signed Jake up on this recommendation and when Daubert reported he found that he was up against another tough job. He had to take the first sack from Tim Jordan, one of the stars of the National League. Jordan was covering the sack like a streak and hitting away up.
   "Always ready to try anything once, Daubert went into the tunnel with all his heart and finally took Jordan's job from him. He covered more ground, thought quicker, was better on wild heaves and hit just about as far as Tim. Poor Tim was shipped to Toronto and Daubert has been a hero at Brooklyn ever since."
   In his first season with Brooklyn (1910), Daubert batted .264 with eight home runs, 50 RBIs, 15 triples, and 23 stolen bases in 144 games. His batting would improve greatly as he won the 1913 and 1914 National League batting titles, .350 and .329. On May 6, 1910, Daubert recorded 21 putouts in a single game, one short of the major league record.
   In 1913, Daubert tried to strike a blow for ballplayer's rights while aiding in the organizing of the Baseball Player's Fraternity a forerunner to today's MLB Player's Association. The Baseball Player's Fraternity met in November 1913 with the National Commission that was a three-man group that ran baseball in those days. Daubert serving as vice-president of the organization, presented a petition with the following changes:
1.)When a player is given his unconditional release, he should be permitted to negotiate whosesoever he desires, instead only in his own league.
2.)Ten days notice should be given before a ballplayer is unconditionally released.
3.)A player should be informed of the terms of his contract when he is sent to another team.
4.)A veteran player should not be sent to a minor league team when there are other major league teams that want him.
5.)Clubs should furnish free to players the entire uniforms exclusive of shoes.
6.)Expenses should be paid for travel between the player's homes and the spring training camps.
7.)A player should be notified in writing of any fine or suspension.
   The National Commission delayed the petition's request and ultimately disregarded it. There had been other attempts to organize baseball players, which include Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players (1885), Player's Protective Association (1900), National Baseball Players Association of the United States (1922) and the American Baseball Guild (1946). The MLBPA became official in 1966 and led by Marvin Miller.
   In the period, 1915-18, Daubert batted .301, .316, .261 and .308. Brooklyn won the 1916 National League pennant, but lost to Boston in the World Series. Daubert batted .176 in the Series.    
   In 1918, the major league baseball season was cut short due to World War I and a flu epidemic. The owners prorated the players' salaries allowing Daubert to sue for the remaining amount of his contract. He did receive most of his $2,150 salary. Ebbets was so upset over Daubert's legal actions that he traded his first baseman to Cincinnati.
   Daubert would leave Brooklyn holding the club record for most games played (1,206) at first base. Gil Hodges broke the record in 1956. Cincinnati would win the 1919 World Series over the White Sox. This was the infamous World Series where it was later revealed Chicago threw the series and the team became the notorious "Black Sox." Daubert batted .276 for the season and .241 in the World Series.
   With the Dead Ball Era over in 1921, Daubert finished his career in Cincinnati (1920-24) batting .304, .306, .336, .292 and 281. For his 15-year major league career, Daubert played in 2,014 games, batted .303, with 56 home runs, 722 RBIs and 251 stolen bases. Daubert currently holds the National league record for sacrifice hits (392).
   On October 2, just after the 1924 season, Daubert had an operation for an appendectomy, but complications ensued. He died a week later at age 40 and is interred Charles Baber Cemetery in Pottsville, Pa. Daubert was considered one of the top first basemen in his playing days during the "Dead Ball" era.
   George Daubert, Jake's son, told the New York Post in a 1989 interview:
"He lived baseball. [George Daubert was 80 years at the time.] After every game, he played the damn game over six times. He was as student of the game. He would study the game. When dad was playing, he carried a little black book, and he would write in there the eccentric movements of a pitcher. If he was going to throw a fastball, he may do some little thing to tip him off. He watched those little things.
   "In those days nobody said, 'Now this is the way you slide into the bag, this is the way you throw, this is the way you run, this is the way you hit.' Nobody told you anything. You went to spring training, and it was everybody for himself."
   Said George Daubert about his father's exclusion from the Hall of Fame: "It's just one of those things. There are other ballplayers that belong in there and aren't. And there are some in there that don't belong."
   Jake Daubert does belong to two Baseball Hall of Fames. He was selected to the Cincinnati Reds' Hall of Fame (1966) and the Brooklyn Dodgers' Hall of Fame (1990).
   It will up to the Veterans' Committee in Cooperstown to determine Jake Daubert's National Baseball Hall of Fame fate.
  Traughber's Tidbit: In 1912, Ty Cobb was suspended by American League president Ban Johnson for going into the Hilltop Park (New York Yankees' home ballpark) stands on May 15 for fighting Claude Lueker, a handicapped Yankees fan. Cobb's teammates reacted to his suspension by going on strike before the May 18 game against the Athletics in Philadelphia. Detroit manager Hugh Jennings searched the Philadelphia area for "substitute" players and found a 20-year old St. Joseph's University student Aloysius Travers to pitch. To field his team, Jennings also signed local amateurs at other positions and 48-year old coach Deacon McGuire as catcher. Travers pitched a complete game 26-hitter, losing 24-2, while McGuire singled and scored a run. And 30-year old third baseman Ed Irvin, playing in his only major league game, recorded two triples in three at-bats for a career 2.000 slugging percentage. Travers was a seminary student and later became a priest. Cobb was fined and the Tigers' strike lasted for one game. All the Detroit one-game substitutes from Philadelphia are officially part of Major League baseball records.
Tidbit Two: Excerpt from the book "Nashville Baseball History: From Sulphur Dell to the Sounds," available June 1 (Foreword by Farrell Owens). The Daily American gave this account from an 1885 game played in Athletic Park (Sulphur Dell) concerning Nashville outfielder Joe Diestel and umpire McCue:
   "The spectators had seen, in the previous game, exhibitions of McCue's puffiness and were thoroughly indignant at him for robbing them of their game. When the players came in Diestel walked up to McCue in a threatening manner and denounced him for calling him out when he was perfectly safe. If it had not been for the ladies in the grandstand Diestel would have hit him. By this time an angry-looking mob came pilling down from the amphitheater, and it looked very much like black eyes, tar and feathers, or something worst for McCue.
   "Manager Mayberry, in the meanwhile, seemed to have anticipated something of the kind, and hurried a number of police down into the diamond to protect the poor unfortunate McCue. They arrived on the spot in good time. The gang of spectators were about to administer to him what they evidently believed to be deserved, when he met his timely rescue. After going to his room to get his coat he was escorted by a body guard of police out of the grounds up Cherry Street to Gaffney's salon on Church Street. Upon the streets the umpire, his foul decisions and general incompetency were the talk of everybody."
   If you have any comments or suggestions contact Bill Traughber via email [email protected].