verb: To loaf or to stall; to refuse play because of a real or imagined injury
noun: a player who is often out of the lineup because of a real or imagined ailment or feigned injury
Variances: “jaking it”
It is widely accepted that the term “jake” originates from the name of Garland “Jake” Stahl, an American League first baseman who played for 12 years between 1903-1913. He played for Boston Red Sox, Washington Senators and the New York Highlanders.
What is not quite clear is why the term originated with Stahl though there are a few ideas. The most prevalent theory is that Stahl refused to play in a game due to an injured foot.
In 1911, baseball writer Alfred Spink is quoted in The National Game:
“If Stahl could get a case of swelled head and begin to think he is really as good as he is, he would be the greatest of them all. Modesty has held him back and I have feared he would finish his career without out how good he his.”
These days, Spinks would have had a lot of fun on Twitter, I’m sure.
Truth was Jake Stahl was pretty good. Maybe not Honus Wagner good or Ty Cobb good but he a solid fielding first baseman who had a decent bat. He consistently was among the league leaders in several offensive categories most notably, rbis, extra base hits and hit by pitches. In 1910, he even managed to lead the AL in homers with 10. Of course, I’m a bit biased in my evaluation of Stahl. I noticed a few years ago that Jake Stahl is a University of Illinois alum and played on the Fighting Illini back in the day (Go Illini!)
Modern Day Usage
The use of term “jaking it” hasn’t subsided much over time even if the most seasoned baseball fans couldn’t tell you who Jake Stahl was. In 1987, Rickey Henderson was accused of “jaking it” by then-Manager Lou Piniella who wanted him traded from the Yankees. The term is not limited to baseball either. Two years ago, cantstopthebleeding.com asked “Is Turkoglu Jaking It? referring to the Toronto Raptor’s Hedo Turkoglu.
Deserved or not (and certainly not intentional), Jake Stahl has lent his name to our game of baseball. He can commiserate with Mario Mendoza, I’m sure.