Born in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, he attended St. Paul's Preparatory School in Concord, New Hampshire. He attended Princeton University as a member of the class of 1914, was elected to the Ivy Club, and played baseball, football and hockey. Hobey Baker was the first great American hockey player. He worked at J. P. Morgan Bank and played amateur hockey with the St. Nicholas Club in New York City in 1915-1917. On America's entry into World War I, he enlisted, left for Europe in 1917, and by 1918 was a member of the Lafayette Escadrille (103rd Aero Squadron) and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. Hobey was an ace fighter pilot in World War I, leading a squad known as the "Flying Tigers." Having received his orders to return home, he took one final flight test piloting a Spad at the end of the war, dying when it crashed.
The Hobey Baker Memorial Award is given annually to the top American college hockey player, and Princeton's Hobart Baker Memorial Rink is named for him. He is memorialized twice in the novel This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The character of Allenby is based on Hobey, and the lead character is named Amory in tribute to Hobey. He was inducted into the National Football Hall of Fame.