When I saw the photograph of the 1906 Lykens-Wiconisco baseball club, I nearly jumped in excitement.
It was on a recent trip to Williams Valley that I made a stop to visit with local historian Sally Reiner. Her knowledge about the history of Lykens, Pennsylvania is second to none; her collection of photographs unparalleled.
As our small group, including Sally, myself, my aunt, and my father, huddled around looking at images revealing the town’s history stretching back to the decades before the Civil War. My gasp got everyone’s attention.
I was looking into the eyes of the baseball club that won victory in the epic 1906 Williams Valley League pennant battle. Their star player was a 22-year-old coal miner from the Schuylkill County mining village of Llewellyn – Jake Daubert.
We’ve written about Daubert in the past, but this is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to see him in the uniform of the Lykens ballclub where he first gained the attention of professional teams. He came to the Williams Valley League as a left-handed pitcher, but threw out his arm early in the season. Instead of returning home to his family in Schuylkill County, a coach convinced him to try playing first base. The club’s previous first baseman had been struck by an errant ball during practice and so Daubert decided to give it a try. He became a star known for his defensive prowess and then for his consistent success at the plate as a hitter.
A breakout season with Lykens in 1906 helped give the team the hard-fought Williams Valley League pennant and put Daubert on the map. By season’s end in August 1906, Daubert was heading west to Kane, Pennsylvania to play on a professional team. He bounced around clubs before landing on the Charles Ebbetts’s Brooklyn “Superbas,” later known as the Dodgers, in 1910. His career in the big leagues lasted 14 years, in which Daubert played in 2 World Series matchups – against Babe Ruth’s Red Sox in 1916 and with the Cincinnati Reds in the infamous 1919 “Black Sox” World Series.
His successful baseball career came to a close with his death in 1924 from complications from an appendicitis.
Sally Reiner’s photograph of the 1906 club shows Daubert and the other players on their field between the Lykens Valley Railroad tracks and the Wiconisco Creek in Wiconisco Township. They look confident, understandable for a team of players who had found success making money from playing America’s favorite pastime. Newspaper reports from Williams Valley and surrounding areas often noted that some players in the league were making in excess of $250 for their play in the season. In their battle with their rivals in Williamstown, a mining community only three miles away, the Lykens club brought in professional players, sometimes paying them $50 for a single important game.
In the end, the season ended in a nasty fight between Williamstown and Lykens fans, and many of the players who participated in the 1906 season moved on to other clubs for the 1907 season, Daubert included.
I’ve been hunting down anything relating to this fascinating moment in the history of Williams Valley. I will never forget the moment that I saw this photograph for the first time. Thank you so much to Lykens historian Sally Reiner for her willingness to share her knowledge with myself, my family, and those with an interest in the history of this small town at the border of the Coal Region.
Featured Image: The 1906 Williams Valley League pennant winners (Courtesy of Sally Reiner)
3 thoughts on “Coal Region baseball star seen in 1906 photograph”
I grew up in Wiconisco, played teener league L&W softball & spent copious summer days on that field. I harrassed my parents annually for every night the carnival would come to town & be held in that field to take me. It’s an enormous field (2 actually) enclosed by a stone wall with archway entrances that is very mideval castlesque in design. On either side of the stone spectator seating structure were perculiar square openings that were halfway walled shut. As an adventurous youth amongst a group of similar friends we explored & charged fearlessly into any new adventure, these dark openings being one of them. Once you heaved yourself into that opening under the seating it was pitch blackness. Couldn’t see your hand in front of face dark. We would blindly navigate through in shear terror until we reached the other side ! Viewing this article’s picture of L&W field without that majestic stonewall that was so prominent in my childhood shockingly unfamiliar…but in a fascinating way!
PS. I must express my genuine appreciation for your website, pictures, articles & days remembered stories. They have reinvigorated my thirst for knowledge, enlightened me on an array of local history that I wouldn’t have obtained elsewhere & have encaptured my curiosity for more local history.
Pps. If you take subject matter requests, I have been extremely curious about the history of The Torch Club located across from Zeiberts Grove in Tower City ,ever since my grandmother told me it was once a speakeasy.
Wonderful piece….thanks so much for your work and posting!!! Dave Silcox