Sep. 3—The retired editor of the Reading Eagle has written a new book about a man who escaped the life of a coal miner to become a star baseball player.
“Gentleman Jake: The Success and Tragedy of the Deadball Era’s Greatest First Baseman,” Harry J. Deitz Jr.’s fourth book in two years, has been published by Sunbury Press of Boiling Springs and is available at sunburypress.com and on Amazon.
The book is the life story of Jake Daubert, who was born in Shamokin and lived most of his life in Schuylkill County. He quit school at 11 to work as a breaker boy in the anthracite coal mines, but his skill as a baseball player provided a path to escape the mines, Deitz said.
“I didn’t know anything about Jake until I started doing research for one of my previous books, ‘Covey: A Stone’s Throw from a Coal Mine to the Hall of Fame,’ which was published in 2022,” the author was quoted in a news release. “That’s when I learned there were five major league baseball players who were born in my hometown of Shamokin.”
Daubert could have followed the path of two of his brothers and died as a young coal miner. Instead he died unexpectedly at 40 as an active baseball player, Deitz said.
Baseball provided a way out of the dangerous coal mines but couldn’t save him from an undiagnosed genetic condition that cut short his life as one of the best players of the Deadball Era.
Jake died in 1924 after a 15-year career during which he had a lifetime .303 batting average, set a National League record for career sacrifices that still stands, won a most valuable player award, was a two-time batting champion, and won two National League titles and the 1919 World Series championship with the Cincinnati Reds over the infamous Chicago Black Sox.
Jake’s wife convinced him to follow his baseball dream when he was a young coal miner living in Llewellyn.
He became baseball’s premier first baseman in an era that produced some of the all-time greats, including Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, and Zack Wheat, all Hall-of-Famers. Despite Jake’s stellar career, he didn’t join them in the Hall of Fame, perhaps because of his conflicts with team owners and his active union role as a defender of players’ rights, Deitz said.
“Like Covey, Jake was quiet and shy when he broke into professional baseball, but he soon developed into a well-spoken team leader who was sought out by sportswriters for commentary and opinions because of his intelligence and understanding of the game,” Deitz said. “He also was a champion trap shooter and successful businessman in the Schuylkill Haven area. Sadly, he didn’t live long enough to enjoy all he accomplished.”
Deitz interviews two of Daubert’s great-grandchildren who shared family photos and memorabilia, and they still hope that the Veterans Committee will consider him for induction into the Hall of Fame.
Deitz Jr. retired in 2018 after 45 years in the newspaper business, including 10 as editor-in-chief of the Reading Eagle.
In 2021, Sunbury Press released Deitz’s first book, “Our Father’s Journey: A Path Out of Poverty,” the story of his father’s life. Masthof Press of Morgantown published Deitz’s “Journal of a Caregiver: A Story of Love and Devotion” in the spring of 2022. It’s his personal story of six years as the primary caregiver for his late wife during her battle with Parkinson’s disease and cancer.
Additional information is available at www.harrydeitz.com.
Source: Yahoo Sports