Jake Beckley

Jacob Peter Beckley (August 4, 1867 – June 25, 1918), nicknamed "Eagle Eye", was an American professional baseball first baseman. He played in Major League Baseball for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, Pittsburgh Burghers, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Giants, Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals from 1888 to 1907.

Jake Beckley
First baseman
Born: (1867-08-04)August 4, 1867
Hannibal, Missouri
Died: June 25, 1918(1918-06-25) (aged 50)
Kansas City, Missouri
Batted: Left
Threw: Left
MLB debut
June 20, 1888, for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys
Last MLB appearance
June 15, 1907, for the St. Louis Cardinals
MLB statistics
Batting average.309
Home runs87
Runs batted in1,578
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Baseball Hall of Fame
Election methodVeterans Committee

Beckley had a batting average of over .300 in 13 seasons. His 244 triples are fourth all time[1] and his 23,767 putouts are a major league record. A career .308 hitter he was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971 via the Veterans Committee.[2]

Early life

Beckley was born in Hannibal, Missouri.[3] He was the son of Bernhart and Rosina (Neth) Beckley. Beckley began playing semi-professional baseball while still a teenager. A former Hannibal teammate, Bob Hart, suggested the 18-year-old Beckley to the Leavenworth Oilers (Leavenworth, Kansas) of the Western Association.[2] After splitting two seasons between Leavenworth and a team in Lincoln, Nebraska, Beckley's contract was sold to the St. Louis Whites in the Western Association before he was purchased (along with Harry Staley) by the Pittsburgh Alleghenys for $4,500 midway through the 1888 season.[4]

Major league career

After playing one and a half seasons for the Alleghenys, Beckley and eight of his teammates jumped to the Pittsburgh Burghers,[4] a team in the newly-formed Players' League (PL). Manager Ned Hanlon crossed over, as well. Beckley stated he was willing to go to the PL because "I'm only in this game for the money anyway."[2] The league lasted only one season, and Beckley spent the next five and a half seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates.[4]

Jake Beckley in 1896 (middle, second from right) with the Pittsburgh Pirates

On July 25, 1896, Beckley was traded to the New York Giants for Harry Davis and $1,000.[4] Beckley was released by the Giants the following season on May 22, and signed as a free agent with the Cincinnati Reds five days later.[4] In his first season with the Reds, Beckley was unsuccessful in getting rookie Honus Wagner out with the hidden ball trick, a tactic he had been known to use against the opposition. But later when Wagner's Louisville Colonels came to play at Cincinnati, Beckley was successful in getting Wagner out, employing a strategy that involved the use of two baseballs.[5] Against the St. Louis Cardinals, Beckley belted three home runs in the same game on September 26, 1897, a feat not again matched until 1922 by Ken Williams.[2] He played with Cincinnati for seven seasons and was later purchased by the Cardinals on February 11, 1904.[4]

Beckley retired after the 1907 season with 2,930 career hits, second only to Cap Anson.[6] He continues to rank fourth all-time among major leaguers in triples with 244. As of the 2014 season, Beckley holds the all-time best batting average among Pirates first basemen (.300).[7] Beckley holds the MLB record for career putouts, with 23,743,[8] and ranks second all-time in games played at first base, with 2,376.[8]

Later life

Beckley's plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame

After his MLB career ended, Beckley became a player/manager for Kansas City in the American Association in 1908–1909, Bartlesville in the Western Association in 1910, and Hannibal in the Central Association in 1911. He served as an umpire in the Federal League in 1913 and also served as a baseball coach at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. In addition to his umpiring and coaching after retirement from professional play, Beckley operated a grain business in Kansas City.

Beckley married Molly Murphy of Hannibal in 1891,[2] but she died of tuberculosis seven months after their wedding. He later remarried after his playing career concluded.[9] Beckley died of heart disease[10] in Kansas City, Missouri at the age of 50.[3] He was interred at the Riverside Cemetery in Hannibal.[3]


See also


  1. "Jake Beckley Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  2. Jake Beckley at the SABR Bio Project, by David Fletiz, retrieved October 27, 2019
  3. "Jake Beckley Stats". Baseball-Almanac.com. Retrieved November 21, 2006.
  4. "Jake Beckley". Retrosheet.org. Retrieved November 21, 2006.
  5. Smith, Ira L. (1956). "Baseball's Famous First Basemen". Baseball Digest. New York: A.S. Barnes & Co. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  6. "Jake Beckley". Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  7. "Pittsburgh Pirates Statistics at MLB.com". MLB.com. Retrieved July 22, 2012.
  8. "Jake Beckley". BaseballHallOfFame.com. Archived from the original on August 20, 2007. Retrieved September 8, 2008.
  9. "Beckley enters Reds HOF for good reasons". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Archived from the original on December 23, 2014. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
  10. "Jake Beckley". TheDeadballEra.com. Archived from the original on December 16, 2006. Retrieved November 21, 2006.
  11. "Pirates induct 19 baseball legends into inaugural HOF class". MLB.com.
  12. "Reds Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2014". Cincinnati.Reds.MLB.com. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  13. "Cavemen Announce New "Jake Beckley .308 Gate" | Prospect Collegiate Baseball LLC".
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