Interlude: Hobey Baker – American Football, Hockey, and War Hero

In a bit of controversy, superstition, and ill-advised actions, Hobart “Hobey” Baker joined the ranks of America’s fallen.  On Dec 21, 1918, Baker launched in a newly repaired Spad for a flight test. The Spad wasn’t his normal plane. He received demobilization orders, and this was his final evening with squadron. He was going out “for one final ride.” With all the hallmarks tragedy in place, Baker died from injuries sustained from the plane crash.

Long before Hobey graced the skies over France, he was Princeton’s football and hockey star. Here is an excerpt from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle on January 23, 1911:

Columbia, under Tom Howard, loses to Princeton with Hobey Baker in his freshman yearColumbia, under Tom Howard, loses to Princeton with Hobey Baker in his freshman year Tue, Jan 23, 1912 – Page 15 · The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) ·

This was Hobey’s freshman year at Princeton. It was also Tom “Attie” Howard’s first year of coaching at Columbia. After college, Hobey played for the St. Nick’s Athletic Club in the amateur hockey league. As a result, Hobey and Attie crossed paths many times over the years.

Hobey Baker joining the aviation corps garnered some of the biggest headlines in 1916. Additionally, Hobey moved to Philadelphia and played hockey for the Quaker City club by Dec 1916. Despite all that, the Canadian Club asked Hobey Baker to play for their team in a charity match. Hobey accepted and was the only American on a Canadian rock star team.

Wed, Mar 21, 1917 – Page 20 · The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) ·

By all accounts, Hobey Baker was the quintessential American sports hero. Furthermore, he became a hero in France earning a Croix de Guerre. Even though he died by his own actions after the war, I’m taking the time remember an American hero. One of many.

1. A Flame that Bured too Brightly: Hobey Baker. Fimrite, Ron. Sports Illustrated. August 20, 2014.