April 22, 1894|
New York, New York
|Died: February 3, 1968
Binghamton, New York
|May 30, 1917 for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
Last MLB appearance
|May 24, 1918 for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Runs batted in||23|
Jacob Albert Pitler (April 22, 1894 – February 3, 1968) was an American second baseman and longtime coach in Major League Baseball. Born in New York, New York, he stood 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) (173 cm) tall, weighed 150 pounds (68 kg), and batted and threw righthanded.
Pitler, who was Jewish, began his professional playing career in 1913 at Jackson of the Class C Southern Michigan Association. When that league disbanded in 1915, Pitler was picked up by the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Class A Southern Association. He was batting a healthy .364 in 42 games when his contract was purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the midseason of 1917 during the World War I manpower crisis. He played in 109 games for Pittsburgh that season, and two contests in 1918, compiling a .232 average in 383 at bats with no home runs and 23 runs batted in. He then joined the war effort.
During much of the 1920s, Pitler was out of "organized" minor league baseball, playing in semi-professional or "outlaw" leagues. But in 1928, he joined the Binghamton Triplets of the New York-Pennsylvania League and became a fixture in that circuit, playing also for Elmira and Hazleton, and beginning his managing career in 1934 with Scranton.
In 1939, Pitler joined the Brooklyn Dodgers as a minor league manager, winning back-to-back pennants with the Olean Oilers of the PONY League in 1939–40. He was promoted to the Dodger coaching staff in 1947 and served through the end of the team's stay in Brooklyn in 1957 — through six National League championships and Brooklyn's lone world title, which came in 1955.
Pitler usually served as Brooklyn's first-base coach and worked under Leo Durocher, Burt Shotton, Chuck Dressen and Walter Alston. Pitler appears in Roger Kahn's memoir The Boys of Summer as a somewhat obsequious aide to Dressen. But with his minor league managing background, he was also hailed as a fatherly figure to Dodger rookies. He was cited for that role in poet Marianne Moore's paean to the 1955 champions, Hometown Piece for Messrs. Alston and Reese.
After retiring as a coach, Pitler continued his association with the Dodgers (by now based in Los Angeles) as a scout. He died in Binghamton, New York, in 1968 at the age of 73. In 1991 he was inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Pitler also holds a still-standing record for most putouts in a game by a second baseman.
- Bucek, Jeanine, ed., The Baseball Encyclopedia, 10th edition. New York: Macmillan USA, 1996.
- Kahn, Roger, The Boys of Summer. New York: Harper & Row, 1971.
- Spink, J.G. Taylor, ed., The Baseball Register. St. Louis: The Sporting News, 1956.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Fangraphs stats
- NY Times obit, 2/4/68
- Hometown Piece for Messrs. Alston and Reese by Marianne Moore
- Jake Pitler at Find a Grave