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Real Indian Ballplayers

Posted by mikelink45 , 10 December 2017 · 2,823 views

cleveland indians braves thorpe bender american indians
Real Indian Ballplayers We have all heard the complaints (legitimate to me) about the use of names like Redskins, Indians, and Braves professional sports teams. I will not go into the reason these are offensive and the degrees of offensiveness attached to each. What I am interested in is where the Indians are when it comes to the ball field. The photo I have put up with this is from my relatives in WI. I found the following list of American Indian professional players -


Louis Sockalexis is the first, a Penobscot from Maine, who played in the 1897 – 1899 era and the massacre at Wounded Knee was in 1890 – perhaps the end of the major plains wars. The last acknowledge battle was 1914 in Utah – Ute/Mormon war. So imagine we have an Indian playing baseball in the major leagues and other Indians performing in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. How crazy is history. Louis was a track and football star like soon to be legend – Jim Thorpe, but his career was derailed by alcoholism, but his athletic feats were still prodigious and if racism did not mix with alcohol he might have been more than a footnote in our history. Erroneously he is credited with the Cleveland Indian name – he played for the Cleveland Spyders. As the following short biography describes he was certainly an influence on the name -


Out of 48 American Indian Ballplayers 29 played by the year 1930. The most famous includes Jim Thorpe, a member of the Sac and Fox nations, who is often cited as the greatest athlete in American History. His greatest fame came when he won the decathlon and the, now defunct, pentathlon in the same Olympics (1912) and recognized as the world’s greatest athlete. He was a star in the Carlisle Indian School where he played football at the highest level as a running back, kicker, and defensive back. He is in the Football hall of fame. His baseball career was less well documented and sad. He lost his Olympic metals for playing professional baseball for the New York Giants and because he did not understand the connection that existed at that time he had given up his amateur status and lost his Olympic medals because of those seasons (which included a world series). As a very poor man from a destitute family he was simply earning the money he needed to survive.

The baseball Hall of Fame includes another famous Indian – Albert (Chief) Bender – the pitcher that Connie Mack said he wanted on the mound for any and all important games. He pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics and distinguished himself as a true Ace. Bender was from the village of Crow Wing, near Brainerd, MN and a member of the Ojibwe nation.
Chief Meyers (notice the nickname pattern) was a Cahuilla Indian from CA and played 10 years for the New York Giants (principally) with a nice but not Hall of fame career.
Looking through the remainder of the list there are some very recognizable names who are listed as American Indian – Pepper Martin of the Cardinal Gashouse Gang, Rudy York, who starred for the Tigers, Cal McLish, Choctawm who I got to see pitch for the Indians, and recently – Kyle Lohse, Nomlaki Wintun, Jacoby Ellsbury, Navajo, and Joba Chamberlain, Winnebago. Today’s players are seldom acknowledged by baseball for their heritage, it is an important part of who they are. Again, I have no idea what percent their heritage is to make this list.
But the point I would like to make is that we have lost a lot of potential on the Indian Reservations due to lots of errors in our cultural wars and from a baseball perspective we have made a mistake by not investing in the reservations to develop new players for the future. We have clinics in the Caribbean, and in South America, but nothing on the major reservations.
With the money generated by the logos and teams that carry the Indian culture as a part of their corporate structure, shouldn’t they pay a royalty to the tribes, maybe through scholarships or baseball schools. Out multi-racial baseball landscape needs to include all races and this is an opportunity that has been overlooked for too long.