1910s – America’s First Hockey Star: Hobey Baker

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American hockey’s first true star enrolled at Princeton in 1910. A three-sport star, Hobart (Hobey) Armory Hare Baker would excel on Princeton’s hockey and football teams until he graduated in 1914. Freshmen were ineligible to play varsity collegiate sports during this time in history but Hobey took advantage of the three years of eligibility he had while at Princeton. He captained the hockey team for two years and the football team during his senior year.

Pages upon pages of articles were written about his sports feats while starring at Princeton. Fans lined the gates for a chance to see him play both sports. He led his hockey team to a 27-7 record and two national championships. In an era known for low-scoring hockey games, Baker averaged a staggering four goals per game. He was also known for his sportsmanship and would always visit the opposing team’s locker room after a game thanking them for a good game. He was only penalized twice in his entire collegiate career.

Hobey Baker of Princeton March 2 1914
Hobey Baker from a
March 2, 1914 issue of the Daily Princetonian

His skills and sportsmanship coined Baker as the premier amateur player. He is forever immortalized in college hockey history as the namesake for the award presented to U.S. college hockey’s most outstanding player each year. Established in 1981, criteria for the Hobey Baker Award include strength of character, sportsmanship and academic achievement as well as excellence on the ice. The Hobey Baker Award Foundation states the following about him: “Hobey Baker was the athlete supreme: The gentleman sportsman, the amateur in the sense, playing the game for the sport, who never fouled, despised publicity and refused professional offers. To this day, he is offered as a striking example of the finest that America has produced.”

Next: 1920s – NCAA Rules, Brand, and Western U.S. Expansion