John Jacob Atz
possibly born Jacob Henry Atz
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9½", Weight 150 lb.
- Debut September 24, 1902
- Final Game September 30, 1909
- Born July 1, 1879 in Washington, DC USA
- Died May 22, 1945 in New Orleans, LA USA
One of the most successful minor league managers in history, Jake Atz's early life is unknown. He claimed to have been born John Jacob Zimmerman and that he changed his name when players on his club were paid alphabetically - and the money ran out before it reached the Zs. He is listed in most places as John Jacob Atz but his wife listed him as Jacob Henry Atz and his son as Jacob Henry Atz Jr.
Atz began his professional baseball career with the 1901 Raleigh Senators and was bought by the New Orleans Pelicans. He initially refused to report but New Orleans manager Abner Powell convinced him when he told him that the salary would be $125 a month, far more than Atz expected. He played three games for the 1902 Washington Senators, getting one hit. He then moved on to the Albany Senators, Troy Trojans, Memphis Egyptians, Portland and the Pelicans. In 1907, Atz led the Southern Association with 158 hits for the Pelicans. That same year, he married Doris Kalman with whom he had two children. The Chicago White Sox bought him that year, along with Moxie Manuel, from the Pelicans. He was a backup infielder for the '08 Sox and the starting second baseman of the '09 iteration, hitting .236/.309/.299, near league average for a player in that extreme pitcher's era and pitcher's park. In one game, he tried to get hit by a pitch from Walter Johnson and badly injured his hip. In his major league career, he batted .218/.304/.263 and fielded .951.
Atz went to the Providence Grays in 1910 and hit .254, second on the last-place club. He slugged .282 and stole 19 bases. During the '11 season, Atz replaced Jimmy Collins as the Providence manager. He hit .284/~.351/.340 with 70 runs scored as he again was one of the better hitters on a last-place club. In 1912, Jake was no longer managing, Providence was still in last and he produced at a .261/~.351/.338 clip with 85 runs scored, 74 walks and 19 steals. He tied for third in the International League in walks. Atz then returned to New Orleans.
In 1914, he became the manager of the Fort Worth Panthers, guiding them until 1929 and returning for one year in 1933, leading them to pennants every year from 1919-1925. Atz spent 22 years managing in the Texas League, a league record; his teams had the most first-place finishes in league history and he was on the winning end of the Dixie Series the most times. Atz briefly lost Fort Worth in '16 when owner Frank Weaver felt he was leaving in an ineffective pitcher too long and removed the pitcher after Jake refused. Atz was hired by the Galveston Pirates for the remainder of the year before the minority owners bought out Weaver and rehired Atz. Overall, he was a minor league manager for 27 years from 1911-1941, compiling a 1,972-1,619 record. As of 2019, he was 15th all-time in Minor League Wins by a Manager.
Atz also managed the Dallas Steers (1930), Shreveport Sports (1931), New Orleans Pelicans (1932), Tulsa Oilers (1934), Galveston Buccaneers (mid-1936), Harlingen Hubs (1938), Henderson Oilers (1938-1939, where his son Jake Atz Jr. was business manager) and he was an umpire in the TL. His last managerial role was with the Winston-Salem Twins in 1941. Four years later, he died of pancreatic cancer. In 1963, he was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.