Baseball…it’s the favorite pastime for most boys and their dream of the future. And for one Smyrna man, it’s a dream he lived and is now in the Hall of Fame for.
In early June, Dave Jacobs was inducted into the Delaware Baseball Hall of Fame at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington. The former Pittsburgh Pirate was honored for his work as a professional player and contribution to the Smyrna-Clayton Little League.
“I was very humbled, I truly was,” Jacobs said regarding his induction. “I was surprised.”
His induction into the Hall of Fame was a long time in the making as Jacobs spent many years of his life completely consumed with the sport of baseball.
The early years
Jacobs, a utility player, originally got into baseball because his whole family played. His father played on the railroad back in the ‘20s. His brother played on the town team. His cousin Forrest “Spook” Jacobs — who grew up in New Jersey — played for the Philadelphia Athletics.
Growing up in Smyrna, Jacobs said there wasn’t a Little League but that didn’t stop the children in town from playing the game.
“We would just make up teams,” Jacobs said. “We just played as a sandlot team amongst ourselves.”
However, it was his high school coach Bob Everett who really pushed for Jacobs to continue playing baseball and proved to be a very influential person in his life.
Everett helped Jacobs, who graduated from Smyrna High in 1952, get a scholarship to play basketball and baseball at Washington College.
Getting his shot
Jacobs was barely a student at Washington College a year when he signed with the Pirates. Having already tried out for the team, Jacobs received an invitation to spring training at the Pirates facility in Brunswick, Ga., and signed with the team.
Signing with the Pirates didn’t faze Jacobs one bit: “I never thought much about it. I just went on and did the things I had to do.”
He would go on to work his way up through the levels of the Pirates’ system, which was very different from the levels of minor league baseball these days. He started in Class D in 1953, the Bristol Twins in the Appalachian League, which was his best year with a .282 batting average and 35 extra base hits.
Page 2 of 2 - “I played where they needed me really,” Jacobs said. “You didn’t make any money but nobody made a lot of money.”
Jacobs reached the Pirates AA team in New Orleans in 1956 and followed the season with winter ball in Panama, but was drafted into the Army for two years.
When he returned in 1959, he was released from the Pittsburgh Pirates but continued to play baseball until 1961 when he decided to quit baseball to work with the Delaware State Police.
“I wasn’t progressing the way I had wanted through the system and thought it was time to get out,” Jacobs said.
But he doesn’t regret the decision and doesn’t even think about it: “I live now and don’t live in the past. People say ‘what would you change?’ I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve had a great life, I truly have.”
But it doesn’t end there
Even though his professional baseball career was over, Jacobs stuck with the game and gave back by getting involved with the Smyrna-Clayton Little League. He umpired and coached off an on over the years, including when his son Jack played ball.
“I was so fortunate as a young man to be able to coach right here in town with the Little League,” Jacobs said. “I was able to coach some good ball players and nice young men. It was a real pleasure, it really was.”
Email Jennifer Dailey at email@example.com.