Atz, John Jacob (1879–1945)

By: Joe B. Frantz

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: October 5, 2020

John Jacob (Jake) Atz, baseball player and manager, was born on July 1, 1879, 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. Here his major league career was 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. After an argument he quit in 1916 but returned in 1917. He led Fort Worth to seven consecutive championships during 1919–25 and remained there until 1929. Thereafter he managed clubs in Dallas, Shreveport, New Orleans, Tulsa, and Galveston. He held the following 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, and 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.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Sports and Recreation
  • Sports (Baseball)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth
  • Dallas
  • Galveston
  • North Texas
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Joe B. Frantz, “Atz, John Jacob,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 5, 2020

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