Beckley played as a professional baseball player in the National League for several clubs in the position of the first baseman. His first game he played for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys on June 20, 1888. In thirteen of his eighteen seasons, he achieved a batting average of over 30%. Overall, he scored 2930 base hits and 244 triples, which he is fourth in the all-time best list of Major League Baseball. Only Eddie Murray played more games at the position of the first baseman Jake Beckley. His last appearance as a player he had on 15 June 1907 jersey of the St. Louis Cardinals. He then worked at clubs in the minor league baseball as a manager. Beckley died in 1918 at the age of 50 years. In 1971, he was picked up by the Veterans Committee in the Baseball Hall of Fame.