Full name John Wemyss Seamer
Born June 23, 1913, Shapwick, Somerset
Died April 16, 2006 (aged 92 years 297 days)
Major teams Oxford University, Somerset
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Legbreak googly
Education Marlborough College
|First-class span||1932 - 1949|
As a young man Jake Seamer wanted to be an actor. He had a personable, if slightly quirky, manner and enunciated as a vicar's son should. But the nearest he got to a stage career was to play the Dame in the annual pantos during his days in the Sudan Political Service. County cricket was his second secret wish. In his school holidays he used regularly to cycle along the narrow country lanes from the vicarage at Shapwick to the county ground in Taunton.
Indeed this engaging dreamer went on to play 59 times for Somerset and he was one of the three - some of us counted six - captains that the county had amid the administrative surrealism of 1948. He carried out the duties, when on leave from the Sudan, for a third of the summer. So did his long-time chum, Mandy Mitchell-Innes, England's oldest surviving Test cricketer. The two of them had scored hundreds while at Oxford or when relaxing from their political responsibilities abroad.
Once Jake hit a hundred before breakfast and lived to dine out on the feat. The two teams decided to avoid the Sudan heat and agreed to start playing at 7am. "It made sense to bat first if we could. Then we filled the opposition with gin before it was their turn." Cricket was always fun for Jake. He was a neat and stubborn batsman who in his Oxford days scored 194 against Minor Counties. His best for Somerset was 70 against Derbyshire; he wished his leaves had been longer and he had played more county cricket.
He got on well with the pros and rather hero-worshipped some of the more famous team-mates. "In the second innings at Hove I'd just been dismissed and JC White passed me as he came in. He surprised me by asking what kind of a bowler Jim Cornford was. I spluttered, bluffed and said he bowled outswingers. Soon Jack White was back in the pavilion, throwing down his bat. `The fellow bowls bloody inswingers,' he raged."
For Somerset, Seamer blocked dutifully when asked. He used to say he always seemed to find himself partnering Arthur Wellard during one of his slogs. "I was lucky if I got half a dozen runs. My main occupation was keeping out of the way of Arthur's head-high returns."
Jake was a kind man of varied sporting interests. He captained Oxford at hockey. But in later life, despite convivially attending Somerset old players' reunions, he confided that he did not too much enjoy the modern game. "I just don't like all that armour they wear." At weekends he was happier watching school and club matches instead.
He taught Latin, English and history at Marlborough and became a housemaster. He was a local JP and was twice mayor. Jake, a widower, could be persuaded readily to interrupt council business or academic gravitas for a cricketing anecdote that
suddenly came back to him. For good nature, he represented the best of the Somerset amateurs.
David Foot, The Wisden Cricketer