Date and Place of Birth: May 19, 1915 King's Mountain, North Carolina
Died: May 31, 1985 Melbourne, Florida
Rank: Private First Class
Military Unit: 87th Infantry Division US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations
W “Jake” Early was born on May 19, 1915 at King’s Mountain,
The following two seasons he played with Charlotte in the Piedmont League, batting .316 in 1938 and earning promotion to the Washington Senators the following year.
Early quickly established himself as the Senators’ number-one receiver, possessor of an outstanding throwing arm, a master at handling knuckleball pitchers, and an American League all-star selection in 1943.
Early was an incessant chatterbox. He once caused
Ted Williams to drop his bat and hold his sides with laughter when
he went into a tobacco auctioneer’s routine that included a
rendition of “
He entered military service on March 15, 1944.
Serving with the Army, he soon found himself in Europe with an
artillery unit and saw action during the
Talking about the Battle of Bulge, Early explained how the Germans got too close for comfort. “Their tanks were less than a mile from the position of my battery. At least one company of their infantry was so close we could see them.”
Early returned to the Senators in 1946. “How do you think the war will affect you?” asked O’Neill at spring training.
“If the way I feel right now is an indication, I’m right back where I was in 1943,” Early answered.
But two years away from the game had made a
difference. He had trouble hitting in 1946 and batted just .201 in
64 games. He was traded to the Browns in December and played 87
games, batting .224 and getting traded back to the Senators for
1948. He remained with
Early returned home to King’s Mountain where he
worked as a police officer and recreation director. Jake Early
Created December 16, 2007. Updated December 7, 2009.
Copyright © 2007 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.