Sigmund (Sig) Jakucki

During the month of December 2021, the Rosenberg Library Museum will display a signed baseball from the St. Louis Browns in 1944, winners of the American League Pennant. The baseball was donated by local Galveston resident and baseball player, Sigmund (Jack) Jakucki who played with the St. Louis Browns. It will be available for view on the 2nd floor of the Rosenberg Library.

 Sigmund (Sig) Jakucki
Baseball signed by every player of the St. Louis Browns, 1944 winners of the American League Pennant (67.64) Donated by Sigmund Jakucki.

It is without a doubt that baseball is notably America’s favorite pastime. Moreover, the origin of baseball has a unique and personal touch for Galvestonians, contributing to the colorful history of Galveston. According to legends, Abner Doubleday created the sport of American baseball in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. Doubleday served as a major general in the Union Army and commanded the troops stationed in Galveston during the Civil War. Galveston lore states that the first baseball game played on the island was in 1865, about 26 years after the sport was created. Surprisingly however, players in the baseball game of 1865 were not Galvestonians, they were Union Soldiers stationed just north of where Ursuline Convent once stood (near 26th St and Ave N.) It was not until this game when locals took interest in the sport and established several amateur teams. By 1877, the first appearance of an all-professional team in Texas played in Galveston.[1]

By the 20th century, one of the biggest names in baseball of the time, Sigmund (Sig) Jakucki, gained both national and local attention. Sig was born on August 20, 1909, in Camden, New Jersey. Sig was notably strong, big and athletic for his age and most likely had his introduction to baseball with the Polish Citizens Club, associated with his families’ parish, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. In 1927 by the age of 18, Sig joined the United States Army, stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii. Sig carried his love of baseball with him into the Army and joined the barracks baseball team where he became the star slugger and occasional pitcher.[2] Although, his Army career was short lived and he received early medical discharge. It was rumored that a local baseball promoter actually "bought his release” from the Army instead.[3] After his Army career, Sig temporarily stayed in Hawaii to play baseball, but was soon sold to the Galveston Buccaneers of the Class A Texas League, where he became an outstanding pitcher at the age of 24, soon to make baseball history for Galvestonians.

 Sigmund (Sig) Jakucki
Photograph of the triumphant 1934 Buccaneers. Sig is pictured on the top row, third from the right. Courtesy image of the Galveston and Texas History Center. G_933_FF001_001, Galveston Photographic Subject Files: Sports. Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas.

Sig went on to play three seasons with the Buccaneers between 1934 and 1936 proving to be a valuable addition to the team.[4] The Buccaneers had won the 1934 championship with Sig’s help and nearly had 100,000 people in attendance during the 15-playoff series.[5] The Galveston Buccaneers, now local celebrities, brought the city its first statewide championship in nearly 35 years, making a memorable impression on baseball history.[6] Moreover, this achievement revived Galveston, which had suffered from economic downturn, disease, and mass destruction.[7] Galvestonians once again felt satisfaction and hope for their city for the first time since the storm of 1900.[8] Reflecting back on the 1934 Championship, Sig stated, “I guess being sent to Galveston was a good break for me. “[9]

 Sigmund (Sig) Jakucki
1934-championship ring which belonged to player Beau Bell. Each side of the ring has a golden Jolly Rogers and the inside of the ring is inscribed with ‘Beau Bell.’ (2015.001)

Despite Sig’s successful win in 1934, he struggled for most of the season in 1936. Known often for his uncontrollable temper, alcoholism and recklessness, it nearly cost him his career at the time. However, towards the end of his third season with the Buccaneers, Sig caught the attention of a major-league scout from the St. Louis Browns, now known as the Baltimore Orioles (since 1954). Sig joined the St. Louis Browns and had his major-league debut playing in the second game against the Washington Senators. In the same season, Sig was on one of the most memorable St. Louis Browns team ever and played in the most important game in the franchise’s history.[10] One of the biggest names in St. Louis baseball, Sig finished his career with 25 wins, 22 losses and a 3.79 ERA.[11] This success was short lived, however; when the following year in 1937 the St. Louis Browns optioned him back to Galveston due to his reckless behavior, making it his last major-league training season for the next seven years.[12]

As a result, Sig went AWOL and failed to live up to his previous 1934 championship performance. Sig continued to play baseball in the minor leagues and bounced to different teams over the years, including playing his best year with the San Antonio Missions before going AWOL a second time. Once again, his reckless behavior had devastating consequences when he was suspended and never played professional baseball again.[13]

Sig retired to Galveston and worked odd jobs throughout the 1950s. Sig lived in poor health due to years of smoking, excessive drinking and reckless behavior. Found dead in 1979 at the age of 69 years old, with no survivors, Sig is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Galveston, and his gravestone is misspelled as Jackucki.

Even though Sig had reckless and unpredictable behavior, he notably is part of the baseball legacy that is still reminiscent in Galveston’s town history. The Moody Stadium, damaged after a severe storm, once stood as a crown jewel in Texas baseball, home of the Buccaneers in Galveston.[14] Combined with the devastating loss of local owner, Shearn Moody in 1936, his estate sold the Buccaneers team to Shreveport investors, leaving the once well renowned Moody Stadium to an empty ten-acre site, a shadow of its once former glory. Organized professional baseball did not return to the island until the 1950s with the Galveston White Caps, still present today, allowing Galvestonians to enjoy local baseball.





[1] O'Neal, Bill. The Texas League: A Century of Baseball, Eakin Press, Austin, TX, 1987, pg. 2.

[2] “Sig Jakucki.” DVRBS.com. Accessed 2021. http://www.dvrbs.com/people/CamdenPeople-SigJakucki.htm.

[3] Wolf, Gregory H. “Sig Jakucki.” Society for American Baseball Research. admin /wp-content/uploads/2020/02/sabr_logo.png, January 4, 2012. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/sig-jakucki/.

[4] Ibid.

[5] O'Neal, pg. 76.

[6] Rutherford, Kris. The Galveston Buccaneers. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2015, pg. 17.

[7] Rutherford, pg. 17.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Wolf, Gregory H. “Sig Jakucki.” Society for American Baseball Research.”

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] O'Neal, pg. 154.

Past Treasures