Hobart Amory Hare Baker (January 15, 1892 – December 21, 1918), known as Hobey Baker, was a noted American amateur athlete of the early 20th century. He was the only member of both the College Football Hall of Fame and Hockey Hall of Fame, and U.S. college hockey's annual award for most outstanding player is named in his honor.
Baker was born in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. He attended St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire, where Malcolm Gordon was coach of the ice hockey team, and he graduated in 1909.
In 1910, he enrolled in Princeton University. During his time there, he was elected to the Ivy Club, while also playing baseball, football, and hockey. Because Princeton's athletic rules limited athletes to participation in only two varsity sports, Baker gave up baseball after his freshman year to concentrate solely on football and hockey. By the time he graduated, he had led Princeton to a national championship in football (1911) and two national championships in hockey (1912 and 1914). Baker was also famous for his refusal to wear headgear in football and for the fact that he was penalized only once during his entire hockey career at Princeton.
Following graduation, he worked at J. P. Morgan Bank in New York City and played for the St. Nicholas Club in Manhattan, one of the top amateur clubs in the United States. (There was no professional hockey in the eastern United States at that time.) When the country entered World War I in 1917, he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a pilot and left for Europe. By 1918, he was a member of the United States Army Air Service, commanding the 103rd Aero Squadron, whose members consisted mainly of veterans of the Lafayette Escadrille. He painted his Spad XIII orange-and-black in honor of his alma mater, Princeton.
Contrary to the newspaper accounts of his day, however, Baker was not an ace. He had only three confirmed kills to his name, rather than the necessary five. He was, nonetheless, awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government for his service. Just a few weeks after the armistice ending the war, he was killed in a plane crash near Toul while test-flying one of his squadron's newly repaired Spads. Ironically, his orders to return home to the United States were found tucked inside his jacket. He is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was three years behind Baker at Princeton (Baker was class of 1914, Fitzgerald the class of 1917), memorialized him twice in the novel This Side of Paradise. The protagonist is named Amory Blaine, a nod to Baker's full name. Another character in the novel, Allenby, is based on Fitzgerald's impressions of Baker as an undergraduate.
Mark Goodman's 1985 novel Hurrah! For the Next Man Who Dies is a fictionalized account of Baker's time at Princeton and in World War I, as told by one of his friends and classmates.
Baker is not only considered one of the greatest ice hockey players of his era, but is also regarded as the first great American hockey player. In 1945 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, one of only a handful of Americans to be so honored, and was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame as one of its charter members in 1973.
Today, the Hobey Baker Memorial Award is given annually to the top male U.S. college hockey player, and Princeton's Hobey Baker Memorial Rink is also named in his honor. At St. Paul's, hockey players still compete for an award known simply as "Hobey's Stick".
He won the Lester Patrick Trophy posthumously in 1987.
Contributions to ice skatingEdit
Hobey Baker improved the design of ice skates by discovering that curling up the toe of the skate would allow him to turn and maneuver more effectively than the flat-bladed skates used at the time. He also invented the wedge stop and in his own time was unique in his use of that method of stopping. Reportedly he only used wedge stopping and never used the parallel (or "hockey") stop which most professional players use even today. Baker was also renowned for being able to skate backwards and use that ability effectively in hockey.
- The Legend of Hobey Baker - John Davies
- Hobey Baker, American Legend - Emil R. Salvini (Cited as 2006 Honor Book by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities)