Greatest manager in Texas League history born
On this day in 1879, John Jacob (Jake) Atz, baseball player and manager, was born in Washington, D.C. He is generally considered the greatest baseball manager in Texas League history. He began his major-league playing career in 1902 with Washington of the American League and played for the Chicago White Sox in 1907-09. His major-league career ended when he was hit by a pitch thrown by Walter Johnson. Atz signed as a playing manager of the Fort Worth Cats of the Texas League in 1914. He quit in 1916 but returned in 1917. He led Fort Worth to seven consecutive championships between 1919 and 1925 and remained there until 1929. Thereafter he managed clubs in Dallas, Shreveport, New Orleans, Tulsa, and Galveston. He held the following Texas League records: twenty-two years as a player and manager; eighteen years as manager of one club (Fort Worth); longest continuous service at one club (fourteen seasons with Fort Worth); and seven successive first-place finishes. Atz's real name was Zimmerman, but, according to legend, he changed it because he had played on a succession of clubs that went bankrupt; paying their players alphabetically, the clubs frequently would run out of money before reaching the end of the alphabet. The name change was typical of his flamboyant personality, which has caused many people to call him "the grandest Texas League figure of all time." Atz died on May 22, 1945, in New Orleans, Louisiana.