Archive for the ‘Jim Thorpe’ Category

Jim Thorpe in the Movies plus ACLU Supports Redskins

March 7, 2015

Two interesting things of note happened this week:

Bob Wheeler, Florence Ridlon, and their son, Rob Wheeler, had an article about Jim Thorpe’s largely unknown activities in the movie industry published in the Spring 2015 issue of the magazine of the American Indian: http://content.yudu.com/web/1q1ji/0A1r2jl/Spring2015/flash/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fcontent.yudu.com%2Fweb%2

Hint: Big Jim appeared in 70 films and started the Indian Center that gave birth to the Native American Screen Actors Guild.

The second thing that happened was that the ACLU filed an amicus brief in the appeal of the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office decision in June to cancel trademark protect for the Redskins football team. The NYU Tech Law & Policy clinic joined the ACLU in arguing that the government cannot constitutionally deny trademark benefits on the basis of speech that it disagrees with or finds controversial even though they (the ACLU) doesn’t like the name. An ACLU blogger dislikes the name so much he called the Redskins’ owner an expletive: NYU Tech Law & Policy clinic, arguing that the government cannot constitutionally deny trademark benefits on the basis of speech that it disagrees with or finds controversial: https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/youre-not-wrong-youre-just-ahole

So, the Redskins appear to be a long way from being forced to change their name.

Carlisle Indian Looms Large in Double No-Hitter

January 28, 2015

For Christmas I received a copy of George Will’s book, A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred. One of the more interesting historic events to take place at the Friendly Confines involved a Carlisle Indian School football player.

On the cool afternoon of May 2, 1917, the Cubs hosted the Cincinnati Reds at Weegham Park, as Wrigley was then called, in a game that has yet to be duplicated. James “Hippo” Vaughn pitched nine innings in which no Cincinnati player hit safely or scored a run. His opponent, Fred Toney, duplicated this effort in front of a sparse crowd on a cool afternoon in which the temperature never exceeded the very low fifties.

Larry Kopf, who had replaced Gus Getz at shortstop earlier in the game after Getz was ejected for arguing about a called strike, “cracked a scorching liner to right field for a single” breaking up Vaughn’s no-hitter in the top of the tenth. Greasy Neale then flied out to center with only the third ball hit out of the infield all afternoon. Cubs’ center fielder Cy Williams misplayed Hal Chase’s fly ball, dropping it and allowing Kopf to advance to third. Jim Thorpe “hit a mean roller toward third, which Vaughn went after. Jim’s speed had him near first base before Vaughn got the ball and there was no chance to throw him out, so the second hit of the game went into the records. Vaughn tried the only play possible. He tossed to [catcher Art] Wilson, hoping to get Kopf at the plate. But Kopf arrived with the ball, and when Wilson fumbled it, he slid home with the first and only run of the game.”

So, Jim Thorpe drove in the winning run in a game that lasted only an hour and fifty minutes.

Eisenhower Was Pro–Just Like Jim Thorpe

December 17, 2014

West Point enthusiast, researcher, and writer Jim Sweeney just made me aware of a July 19 New York Times article by Michael Beschloss titled “The Pro Who Shadowed Eisenhower’s Career.” In this article, Beschloss mused, “One can imagine what modern opposition researchers could have done with this information during the 1952 campaign, had they followed the maxim of attacking your adversary’s strengths.” I think he mulls over the wrong question because, in the immediately preceding paragraph, Beschloss discusses how the issue was made public years earlier. Shortly after V-E Day, Ike explained to an Associated Press reporter that, as a poor boy fresh out of high school, he would have taken “any job that offered me more money” and that he “wasn’t a very good center fielder.” A better question would be “How would voters have reacted to hearing about his youthful indiscretion?”

Beschloss later refers to David Eisenhower’s 1910 book about his grandfather in which the younger Eisenhower revealed that Ike had played under the name of Wilson in the 1909 Central Kansas League. In Baseball’s Most Wanted II, Floyd Conner provided a little more detail: “Eisenhower displayed his baseball ability when he batted .355 for Junction City of the Class D Central Kansas League.” So, Ike and Jim Thorpe started their professional baseball careers in similar circumstances. Both were poor, needed the money (which wasn’t much), and played on bush league teams but in different parts of the country. The difference was that Eisenhower was sophisticated enough to play under an assumed name.

Politics in America have never been a kind and gentle business. If the Democrats thought hammering Ike over participating in college sports after having played for money would have benefitted them, they surely would have used it. Surely someone, possibly the reporter, would have remembered the AP disclosure. However, the sympathetic public response to Jim Thorpe’s professionalism probably persuaded them that attacking Eisenhower this way could easily backfire and eliminate what little chance they had of defeating this war hero.

College Football and All America Review

May 28, 2014

The most recent edition of the College Football Historical Society Newsletter included a historical book review of Christy Walsh’s 1949 College Football and All America Review. What caught my eye most were two things the book included: “the score of every game [ever] played” and “listing of lettermen, by year, from each school.” Determining exactly who played on the Carlisle and Haskell teams is a difficult, if not impossible, project due to the records retained for those teams. So, I searched for a copy of the book and found one at Allegheny College through interlibrary loan. Eventually the sought-after book arrived.

I flipped through the pages of the book searching for the Carlisle lettermen and found none. I repeated the process for Haskell and was disappointed again. Perhaps because neither school was competing at the college level at that time, their records were omitted. Or, it may have been too hard to gather up the information from the available data sources. Regardless, I came up dry. But I did stumble across some things of interest.

The book was dedicated to Pop Warner “with affectionate esteem” and Warner wrote a one-page article, “Flash-back to Carlisle” in which he reminisced about his years with the Indians. His list of highlights included:

  • Numerous victories over the University of Pennsylvania
  • Defeat of Harvard 18 to 15 in 1911 against Walter Camp All Americans as Percy Wendy, Sam Felton and Bob Fisher, the game in which Jim Thorpe kicked three goals from the field
  • The 27 to 6 trouncing the red-skinned youngsters gave to West Point in 1912, when the Cadets boasted players like Arnold, Littlejohn, Hyatt and Devore
  • I happily recall the truly great Indian squad of 1913 which handily swamped undefeated Dartmouth by a score of 35 to 0
  • Perhaps no Carlisle victory was more important or satisfying than the historic post-season game of 1907 when Chicago, coached by that grand old man Amos Alonzo Stagg and quarterbacked by Wally Steffen, another Walter Camp All American, was soundly defeated by the Indians, after the Conference champions had won the Big 10 title in an undefeated season.

Not listed were the 1905 Carlisle victory over West Point during a season Warner wasn’t at Carlisle and the 1907 defeat of Harvard, possibly because Warner felt the defeat of Chicago overshadowed it.

 

Dragged into the Redskins Naming Controversy

November 12, 2013

As followers of this blog know, Lone Star Dietz’s name pops into the news whenever the Redskins naming controversy heats up. After President Obama interjected himself into this matter, I started getting calls from reporters again. So far, my name has appeared in several places and has caused some embarrassment for me as well as some amusement.

The first mention I was made aware of was on the Redskins’ Official Site: http://blog.redskins.com/2013/11/01/jim-thorpe-the-greatest-athlete-in-the-world/

Unfortunately, the posting included a photo with the caption I unwittingly used in my book.  The Albright College player standing between Jim Thorpe and Lone Star Dietz in the photo was not Leo Disend as the 60-some-year-old yearbook stated. I became painfully aware of that mistake during the Q&A session at the end of my very first book talk when Leo Disend’s brother informed me that the player in the photo was identified correctly. Accepting that he must know what his brother looked like, I informed Albright College of the error. After conducting some research, they determined that the player in question was in fact John Killiany.

The Washington Post published a large spread on Dietz that mentioned me briefly: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-legend-of-lone-star-dietz/2013/11/07/00569fa2-471d-11e3-bf0c-cebf37c6f484_gallery.html#photo=1

The Post also posted a video of Barry Zientek on its web site: http://www.washingtonpost.com/posttv/local/the-story-of-the-man-for-whom-the-redskins-are-named/2013/11/06/a4760340-4743-11e3-bf0c-cebf37c6f484_video.html Barry Zientek’s parents befriended Lone Star & Doris Dietz in their old age and helped them in many ways when they lived in poverty.

Reading PA The Morning Call published an article from Lone Star’s grave written by the same Washington Post reporter: http://www.mcall.com/sports/mc-redskins-dietz-1107-20131107,0,656374.story?track=rss

For the first time I’m aware of, I was mentioned in a foreign newspaper, the Daily Mail of London, England in an error-riddled article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2492195/Was-native-American-figurehead-justification-Washington-Redskins-fraud-faked-ethnicity-gain-publicity.html  However, I wasn’t mentioned for saying anything about Dietz; I was credited with having given the Mail permission to use the image of the 1908 St. Louis Globe-Democrat article on Dietz of which I own the only surviving copy. (I’d like to have one in better condition but haven’t been able to find one.) Oddly, I have no memory of being contacted by the Daily Mail to use this or any other image I own.

The Great Red Hope

October 22, 2013

While searching for newspaper articles about the 1912 Carlisle-Brown game for another researcher, I came across an article about Jim Thorpe possibly participating in yet another sport. An article that came out the day most of the game coverage appeared in papers was an unrelated article on page 9 of the Friday, November 29, 1912 edition of the Oleans Evening Times titled “Jim Thorpe May Become Red Hope,” bylined Cambridge, Massachusetts. The article led off with “Jim Thorpe, the big Carlisle Indian, and Charley Brickley, vest pocket edition of Jim Jeffries, though they may never match brain, brawn, and feet on the gridiron, may meet in the squared circle.”

Carlisle and Harvard didn’t play in 1912 and its followers still may have been smarting over the loss the year before and wanted to even the score a bit. Or, someone may just have been wanting to make some money. We probably will never know who was behind this scheme because all the article said was “Overtures have already been made [by an unnamed person or persons]…to box a Harvard amateur, the bout to be pulled off next month before one of the winter boxing meets of the Boston Athletic Association.”

The promoter of the fight wasn’t the only name kept secret; Thorpe’s opponent wasn’t identified either. Possible candidates reputed to be adept at the manly art of self defense included Charley Brickley, Harvard’s star half back and Thorpe’s rival at place kicking, right tackle Bob Storer, and substitute end Al Weatherhead.

After this build up, the article’s tone changed abruptly in the last paragraph:

“Before going to Oklahoma, however, Thorpe will probably slip up to Boston for the proposed bout with the Harvard athlete, unless Glenn Warner, who is said to be dead set against Thorpe’s pugilistic aspirations, may successfully talk him out of it.”

Pop probably talked him out of it and, now knowing how harmful concussions can be, extended his long athletic career by not letting him get his head pounded in the boxing ring.

Carlisle’s National Treasure

August 31, 2013

Last week I got a call from Sentinel reporter Joe Cress asking about Freddie Wardecker. For those not from the Carlisle area or who aren’t interested in Carlisle Indian School sports teams, Freddie is the proprietor of Wardecker’s Mens Wear, formerly M. Blumenthal on North Hanover Street not terribly far from Carlisle Barracks where the Indian School was located from 1879-1918. Mose Blumenthal operated The Capital, as the business was then known, back when the Indian School was in operation. Mose also had a contract with the Indian School and did work there. Indian School personnel and students patronized The Capital. Along the way, Mose collected a number of artifacts related to the Indian School, its students, faculty, and staff. Freddie inherited them and has added a number of items related to Carlisle to the collection.
For serious researchers, visiting Wardecker’s is a must. Freddie freely shares his wisdom concerning Jim Thorpe et al but welcomes visitors to sit at his round table to solve the world problems of the day.
I told Joe what I know but referred him to Bob Wheeler, the author of the definitive biography of Jim Thorpe, because he has better stories to tell and is much more eloquent than I could ever hope to be. Here is a link to the article about not a local treasure, not a state treasure, but a national treasure: http://cumberlink.com/news/local/history/wardecker-s-menswear-store-in-carlisle-remains-a-resource-for/article_0d679b7c-0dbd-11e3-990c-0019bb2963f4.html Don’t forget to check out the photos.

Random Carlisle questions

August 14, 2013

Because of this blog and my books about Carlisle Indian School football players I often get questions related (sometimes very loosely) to these people, early football, Pop Warner, and Carlisle Indian School in general. A couple I received earlier this week are:

Q. Was there a river or stream within walking distance from Carlisle’s campus where Jim Thorpe could have gone fly fishing?

A. For anyone who has lived in Central Pennsylvania this is a trivial question. For anyone else, a little research would be required. Living here gave me an advantage. Letort Spring Run, one of America’s most highly regarded trout streams runs through the campus but I doubt if a serious angler would have fished that stretch. He would most likely have tried his luck just south of town nearer to the creek’s source at Bonnybrook. Fishing the Letort can be frustrating, I’m told, because the fish are so smart. Some say it’s necessary to crawl up to the bank on one’s stomach to keep from alerting the fish to your presence. Eugene Craighead cut his teeth at Bonnybrook and became one of the country’s most noted fly fishermen.

Q. In the evening on the Carlisle campus, at a specific time, did a bugler play “Taps” signaling lights to be turned off all over campus?

A. Intuitively, this sounds accurate because Lt. Richard Henry Pratt of the 10th Cavalry founded the school and served as its superintendent for 25 years before being replaced by Maj. William A. Mercer, another cavalry officer. The students wore military uniforms and marched daily, so using bugle calls seems obvious. However, one needs proof—and there was some.

Taps

And a decade later The Carlisle Arrow of September 27, 1912 provides some more:

Bugle Calls

100th Anniversary of Jim Thorpe’s First At Bat

April 8, 2013

Sunday marks another milestone in sports history: Jim Thorpe’s first major league at bat. A year to the day after being selected for the 1912 U. S. Olympic team, on Monday, April 14, 1913, Jim Thorpe made his major league debut by pinch hitting for spitballer Charles Monroe “Jeff” Tesreau in the bottom of the ninth inning in a 3 to 2 loss to the Giants’ cross-town rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers. He made an out.

However, he started out spring training much better. In a 6-inning split-squad game played at the Giants’ camp in Marlin Springs, Texas on February 28, he hit a three-run homer and singled off the afore-mentioned Jeff Tesreau. On March 5, Frank Demaree struck out Thorpe on a “wide bender” for Thorpe’s first strike out in spring training. Perhaps, this was the origin of the belief that Jim couldn’t hit a curve ball.

On March 12, he hit a long home run off Christy Matthewson, one of First Five inductees into baseball’s hall of fame in Cooperstown. But his fielding was considered weak and his hitting inconsistent. A March 14 wire service item quoted McGraw: “Muggsy of Gotham opines that Injun Jim Thorpe is one of the rawest ever. Raw red skin!” Pop Warner suggested that a year or two of seasoning in the minor leagues under skillful coaching would have helped Thorpe immensely. Instead, McGraw kept him with the Big League team to capitalize on his popularity.

Newspapers reported that John McGraw planned to cut short Thorpe’s $6,000 per year contract after the Giants made their first western road trip. McGraw may not have realized he had not signed Thorpe to a standard National League contract at this time. Pop Warner authored the non-standard contract, which went into effect on April 10, 1913, the Giants’ opening day that year. But that is another story.

Thorpe in Giant uniform 1913

 

Thorpe Lost Olympic Medals 100 Years Ago

January 29, 2013

Last Thursday, Carlisle Sentinel reporter Joe Cress called to remind me that the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Jim Thorpe’s professionalism was imminent. Joe was essentially right. In late-January 1913, Roy Johnson of the Worcester Telegram, wrote an article challenging Jim Thorpe’s amateur status, based on a conversation he had with Charles C. A. Clancy, manager of the Winston-Salem baseball team of the Carolina League. According to Johnson’s article, Clancy claimed that he paid Thorpe to pitch and play first base for his team during the 1910 season. On January 19, 1913, charges claiming Thorpe was not an amateur were filed with the AAU. On January 23, an interview of Clancy was published in which he denied that Thorpe played for his team or on any other team in the Carolina Association. On January 25, Pop Warner restated Clancy’s position that Thorpe had not played for his team. That same day, the AP reported that Thorpe was negotiating a contract with the Tecumseh professional hockey team to play for them the next season.

An International News Service article dated January 25, 1913 included a claim by Peter Boyle stating that he played with Jim Thorpe in the Eastern Carolina Association. He also claimed that he was traded to the Rocky Mountain team in 1910 for Thorpe who was then playing for Fayetteville. On January 27, the AAU informed newspapers via telegram that “All doubt as to the truth of the charges has vanished and the members of the American Olympic Committee are prepared to make their apologies to the Swedes for having used Thorpe in the Olympic games.” Shortly after that, Thorpe sent the AAU a letter (probably written by Warner) admitting his “professionalism” and returned his gold medals and other trophies.

Soon after this, Thorpe signed with the New York Giants but that is a story in itself.

http://cumberlink.com/news/local/history/thorpe-admitted-to-professionalism-years-ago/article_22e2ec04-6903-11e2-a4b1-0019bb2963f4.html


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