Baby Doll Jacobson
- 1B, OF
- August 16, 1890
- 6' 3"
- 215 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-14-1915 with DET
The center fielder for one of the best outfields in history, Baby Doll Jacobson teamed with Ken Williams and Jack Tobin on the St. Louis Browns for five years. He was a large man who covered the outfield well, holding the American League record for putouts for 24 years. Cast adrift by Detroit as a rookie, Jacobson went on to post a .311 average in more than 1,400 major league games.
Outfielder Baby Doll Jacobson hit .311 over 11 seasons in the majors and hit over .300 in 7 straight years. Also known for his defensive skills, he at one time held 13 fielding records.
Jacobson began his pro career with the Rock Island Islanders of the Three-I League in 1909. Following three years with Rock Island, he played three more summers in the Southern Association, where he earned the nickname "Baby Doll" after a popular song of the era. After reaching the majors with the Detroit Tigers in 1915, he was traded to the St. Louis Browns during the season. However, after hitting just .211 in the majors, he was back in the Southern Association in 1916. After hitting a league-leading .346 for the Little Rock Travelers that year, he was back in the majors as a regular for the Browns in 1917.
After missing the 1918 season while serving in the naval reserves during World War I, Jacobson returned to St. Louis in 1919 and immediately was greatly improved at the plate, hitting .323 in his first year back. He had his finest big league season the next summer, hitting .355 with 122 RBIs. In 1921, he hit .352 and drove in 90 runs. The following September 9th, facing Detroit, he tied an American League record with 3 triples in a game. He hit .317 with a career-high 16 triples on the season, but the Browns finished in second place, one game behind the New York Yankees.
In 1924, Jacobson hit a career-best 19 home runs and recorded 484 putouts, a record that stood for 24 years. Dealt to the Philadelphia Athletics and then to the Boston Red Sox in 1926, he split his final big league season of 1927 between the Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, and the Athletics. Following his big league days, he played two more seasons of minor league ball.
After baseball, Jacobson farmed near Coal Valley, Illinois, from 1929 to 1960. He died at age 86 and is buried at Dayton Corners Cemetery in Colona, Illinois.
His contract card (in microfilm at the Hall of Fame) gives the following transaction information for his career prior to 1915:
11/24/1908 Rock Island;
1909 Rock Island;
1910 Rock Island, Battle Creek (Rock Island retains option)
8/26/1911 release purchase Rock Island to New York NL
3/8/1912 contract New York NL
4/3/1912 release New York NL to Mobile (opt)
4/22/1913 optioned again to Mobile
12/20/1913 released by New York NL to Chattanooga
4/16/1914 contract Chattanooga
8/2/1914 released by Chattanooga to Detroit AL;
9/30/1914 reserved by Detroit AL
9/1/1915 reserved by St. Louis AL
100 RBI Seasons: 2 (1920 & 1922)
100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1924 & 1925)
200 Hits Seasons: 2 (1920 & 1921)
The Nick Name
Written in 1911 by composers Nat Ayer and Seymour Brown, Oh You Beautiful Doll quickly became a popular tune. While playing for the Mobile Sea Gulls of the Southern League in 1912, Bill Jacobson hit a home run and a band located in the grandstands played the song. The following day, the Mobile Register printed Jacobson's picture above a caption that read: "That Baby Doll." The name stuck.
- Baby Doll Jacobson