Chickasaws at Carlisle

February 28, 2015

A friend recently asked me if I knew of any Chickasaws who played sports at Carlisle. Sadly, I can’t find any even though some Chickasaws may have played football, run track, hit a baseball, bounced a basketball, or chased a lacrosse ball on an Indian School team. The two major problems in finding someone are that no records tracked athletic participants by tribe and relatively few Chickasaws came to Carlisle because they had their own schools. Some accounts in school and newspaper publications list tribe affiliations for players but are sporadic at best. I would appreciate knowing of any Chickasaws who participated in Carlisle sports programs.


Radiolab Program About Carlisle on NPR

February 13, 2015

I was interviewed at length some weeks ago by NPR’s Radiohead for a future broadcast about Carlisle Indian School football. While listening to Sally Jenkins’s interview during the program, I was saddened by the lack of nuance in her description of the 1896 Carlisle-Yale game. Yes, William O. Hickok was a Yale alum but he was also Carlisle’s coach that year. Omitting this important fact spun the officiating of the game as outright cheating. Carlisle Indian School ran a special edition of its newspaper, The Red Man, that included contemporaneous coverage of the game from the viewpoints of several observers who had differing opinions. A reasonable conclusion that could be made after reading these articles would be that Hickok blew the call, to use modern football parlance, by prematurely blowing his whistle before Isaac Seneca or Jonas Metoxen (accounts vary as to who was carrying the ball initially) was taken to the ground. Bad calls are still part of football, so much so that instant replay has been instituted in recent years to overturn them when ample evidence is provided on the video. To say that Hickok, Carlisle’s coach at the time, cheated his own team in favor of his alma mater, is a serious accusation that doesn’t stand up to the available evidence. Think about the boost a victory, or even a tie, with Yale would have given Hickok’s coaching career. He had a significant incentive to beat Yale. He just blew the call and, possibly, his chance at being a top-flight coach.

Contrary to the Radiolab program, Pop Warner didn’t just happen to coach Carlisle. After graduating from Cornell with a law degree, he had coached Iowa State and Georgia–simultaneously–before returning to lead his alma mater. Seeing that his players needed better coaching, Superintendent Pratt asked Walter Camp, the greatest expert on the game of his day, for advice. Camp suggested he consider Pop Warner, an ingenious up and coming coach. Warner and the Indians made a perfect match football-wise. Neither would likely have had the records they did without each other.

Richard Henry Pratt, who was sometimes called “an honest lunatic” by his critics, deserves a more balanced treatment than NPR gave him. Where a common, if not majority, view at the time favored eradication, Pratt held the radical view that Indians could do anything a white man could do. I’ve never found anything from the period stating that Carlisle students weren’t allowed to speak their own languages. They were surely encouraged to speak English but Pratt had no need to force them. How else were they going to communicate with each other if they didn’t? The various tribes represented at Carlisle spoke numerous different languages and could only understand those from their own tribe or one that spoke a similar-enough language. Other schools, where the students were from a single or only a few tribes, may have forced their students to speak English but Carlisle had no need to do that.


Why Did Jenkins Smear George Woodruff?

February 4, 2015

After Harry Carson Frye informed me of the December 25, 1905 Washburn-Fairmount game, I did a little research in the 1906 Spalding’s Guide. When my eyes drifted off to Penn coach George W. Orton’s description of the 1905 season in “Football in the Middle States.” What caught my eye most was his assessment of the 1905 Carlisle team:

“Carlisle fell a little below the high standard of former years, though the brilliant games put up against Pennsylvania, Harvard, and West Point proved that the Indians were yet very much to be feared in any company. They played the same style of game as in previous years in spite of their new coach; good punting, end running and tricky open play being their main sources of strength.”

Orton’s assessment sharply contradicted an assessment of Carlisle’s 1905 team by Sally Jenkins in The Real All Americans:

“Mercer demonstrated his utter lack of feel for the place with a totally unsuitable hire; George Woodruff….The Indians were a predictable disappointment under Woodruff. Their marvelous offense, formerly a maze of men going in different directions, became ordinary. They looked and played just like any other team, and their record showed it. They were 10-5 and lost every significant game, and more important, they lost their uniqueness. Their only real fun came in a 36-0 defeat of crosstown rival Dickinson.”

To the contrary, Caspar Whitney ranked Carlisle as the 10th best team in the country, three places behind Army even though the Indians beat the Cadets in their first-ever meeting. Still, 10th is pretty good, especially considering that he ranked them 14th in 1904. In spite of Carlisle’s four defeats (Harvard, Penn, Massillon Tigers, and Canton Bulldogs. One wonders where Jenkins found the fifth loss) Whitney ranked Harvard second in the country and Penn third. Massillon and Canton weren’t ranked because they were semi-pro teams, arguably the best of their day, in the middle of the Indians’  whirlwind 6-games-in-20-days tour. In addition to Army and the local colleges, the Indians defeated Villanova 35-0, Penn State 11-0, Virginia 12-0, Cincinnati 34-5, Washington & Jefferson 11-0, and Georgetown 76-0.

The December 8, 1905 edition of The Arrow coverage of the Georgetown game likely written by Carlisle’s PR department and subtitled “Red Men Have Such A Picnic That They Try All Sorts of Plays” suggests that the Indians had fun at more games than the one with Dickinson:

“Although the score was one-sided, the game was interesting throughout, owing to the diversity of the Indians’ work and the great amount of open field play. Mount Pleasant and Libby, the two Indian quarterbacks, let loose the great repertoire that had been taught by Woodruff, the old Pennsylvania player, and Kinney, the All-American Yale guard of last year, and gave Washingtonians the greatest exhibition of diversified football they had ever witnessed.”

Why Jenkins chose to belittle George Washington Woodruff is unclear. Maybe it advanced her storyline. Regardless of the reason, her treatment of him is unfair. Prior to coming to Carlisle, George W. Woodruff had amassed a coaching record, including three unofficial national championships at Penn that assured his enshrinement in the College Football Hall of Fame. A lawyer by trade, he left the team after the last regular season game at West Point to work at a various positions in the Roosevelt administration and with his friend Gifford Pinchot. Suffice it to say, Woodruff’s legacy is radically different from Jenkins’ slurs.

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.


January 25, 2015

That a football team would stretch the rules beyond the limit to gain an advantage over its opponents is not surprising, especially since such stretching has such a long history. And the ball itself has been central to many stunts. The very first American football game (soccer actually) played between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869 was reputedly played with a crude ball more round than rugby-shaped. The two-game international series played between Harvard and McGill in 1874 featured a round ball in the first game, rugby ball in the first game played under American football rules. The next day, they played rugby with an egg-shaped ball. Harvard switched to rugby after that game. Decades later, coaches manipulated the balls to gain an advantage over their opponent. Perhaps the most famous example was when Pop Warner had leather patches shaped by footballs sewn on his Carlisle players’ jerseys to fool Harvard and Harvard’s coach retaliated by painting the footballs Crimson, the color of his team’s jerseys.

Modern day coaches are more subtle. According to news reports, the New England Patriots have been deflating their footballs, except the kicking balls, to below the NFL’s allowed pressure. Previously, the Patriot quarterback stated his preference for softer footballs. The Patriots’ coach and quarterbacks denials in press conferences raise more questions than they answer, particularly given the team’s history of cheating.

The NFL is now in the unpleasant position of having to deal with this scandal. Either they enforce their rules with harsh penalties or risk becoming a laughing stock. A detailed and specific rule exists, one assumes there is good reason for it. If they minimize the infraction of this rule, they risk making all NFL rules suspect. If this rule isn’t enforced, it must not be important. What other rules aren’t important? Why should a team obey any of them?

A thought on a punishment belatedly came to me:

For the Super Bowl, the NFL could have the Patriots deflate each of their 11 non-kicking game balls by two pounds each. Then they would replace that air with air from the kicking ball (the only one that was still in the legal range) until they could get no more air to transfer out of the kicking ball. They would play the game with these twelve balls and would be forced to use the kicking ball for kickoffs, punts, extra points, and field goals, should they choose to do any of these. Kicking off (or punting if chosen after a safety) is the only kick a team is required to make. All the others are discretionary.

Was the Tsunami Based on the Double-Wing?

December 26, 2014

Old friend Tex Noel forwarded me a recent article about a new formation from AFCA Weekly. In that article Leon Feliciano, Head Coach of Tomales (CA) High School, states that his Tsunami formation is based on the double wing and provides photos of both formations (below).

Double-wing Feliciano

Tsunami formation

The first thing I noticed is that Feliciano used a balanced-line configuration with the quarterback directly behind, if not under, center as the basis for his Tsunami. Pop Warner’s fully-evolved double-wing, which he labeled Formation B in his 1927 book, in sharp contrast, uses an unbalanced line and a direct snap to a running back. (below)

Formation B Warner

To me, the Tsunami is more like Warner’s single-wing than his double-wing because it employs only one wingback. Warner’s fully-evolved unbalanced-line single wing as depicted as Formation A (below) in his 1927 book is closer to the Tsunami than Warner’s double-wingback formation, but is different, especially with regard to the positioning of the quarterback. Where Warner moves his quarterback along the line to just behind the tackles and renames the position as blocking back.


Warner’s 1912 book sheds little light on this question because Warner had shifted to running only direct snap formations in 1910. He does include one set of plays with the quarterback directly behind center in what he calls the Regular Formation (an incarnation of the T Formation).

However, in his correspondence course Warner started marketing in 1908, he includes a set of plays run from the End-Back Formation in which the right halfback is placed outside the right end as a wingback without moving the quarterback from behind center. The difference between this formation and the Tsunami is that Warner positioned his left end in the backfield about where he later placed his blocking back. (Rules allowed five men in the backfield at that time.) The extra man in the backfield and the resulting unbalanced line are the chief difference between the End-Back Formation and the Tsunami.

1908 End Back formation

Warner’s next wingback formation, which appears unnamed in play number 8 to 16 in the 1910 or 1911 (the year isn’t clear) Offense pamphlet supplement is a direct-snap single-wing with a balanced line. If Warner moved his blocking back to directly behind the center, it would be very similar to the Tsunami.

1910 Balanced-Line single-wing

I hope this little walk down Memory Lane helps place the Tsunami with its historical predecessors.





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.

Montana the Greatest

November 26, 2014

One of the six NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks from Western Pennsylvania that Wayne Stewart writes about in his new book, America’s Cradle of Quarterbacks: Western Pennsylvania’s Football Factory from Johnny Unitas to Joe Montana has been named the best NFL quarterback of all time by none other than his rival.

Yahoo reports that Troy Aikman regards his former rival as the best to ever play the game in an interview on the Dan Patrick Show.

“Joe Montana,” said Aikman. “And I don’t care if we’re comparing him against anyone from today’s game or not, or what his numbers may or may not look like. I saw him do it on the biggest stage, in the biggest moments and bring his team back and do the things that I think are required of the position.”

Listen to his interview here:;_ylt=A0LEV1z6d3ZUpacAkBRXNyoA

Aikman isn’t the only one to think Montana was the best.

Tom Brady

Book Released!

November 23, 2014


America’s Cradle of Quarterbacks: Western Pennsylvania’s Football Factory from Johnny Unitas to Joe Montana by Wayne Stewart has been released and books are in stock. The author’s copies are scheduled to arrive on tomorrow, Monday. Those will go mostly to people who assisted Wayne in some way in researching the book or by loaning him photographs or allowing him to interview them.

Right now, print books can be purchased from, at your local bookstore, or the usual on-line resellers. Ebooks can be bought in the Kindle and Epub formats from and, respectively. This is the first major book I’ve put into ebook and well as print. We’ll see how that works out. has a program in which print book buyers get a special discount on the ebook if they want it in both formats.

An advantage of ebooks (on some newer devices) is that they display in color. Printing books of this nature in color is cost prohibitive, meaning the cost of printing a full-color interior would raise the retail price of the book so much that few people would buy it. A limiting factor on color photos in the interior of a book is the ebook file size. Since color photos are typically larger at a given resolution than their black and white counterparts, a publisher can’t go wild with interior color photos in a book.

For more information check out:


America’s Cradle of Quarterbacks

November 17, 2014

I’ve been asked why I haven’t blogged lately. There are two major reasons (besides often not having anything worth saying): volunteer work associated with the Craighead House restoration keeps me pretty busy and I’ve been getting another book ready to publish. I’ve published books of my own before, reprinted out-of-print books, helped other authors get their books in print, but, until now, hadn’t published another author’s new book. Going to press as this is being written is America’s Cradle of Quarterbacks: Western Pennsylvania’s Football Factory from Johnny Unitas to Joe Montana. This is author Wayne Stewart’s 30th book, most of which deal with some topic related to sports.

It’s very different promoting a book written by someone else rather than one I’ve written. I’m more comfortable speaking positively about it than I ever was about my own books. I only felt comfortable talking about how interesting the subject of my books were and, in Lone Star Dietz’s case, how descriptive his illustrations were. Sure, I get to talk about how Stewarts subjects, Johnny Unitas, George Blanda, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, and Joe Montana, led interesting lives. But now, I get to talk about Wayne Stewart’s writing, how it grabs your attention and keeps you wanting to hear what happens next.

Others who’ve read the manuscript agree with me:

“Stewart has written a fascinating book that belongs on the shelves of football historians and everyday fans alike.” Jeffry J. Miller, author of Rockin’ The Rockpile, Buffalo’s Forgotten Champions, and Game Changers

“Any fan of the Baltimore Colts of my era, any fan of my friend and teammate Johnny Unitas, or, for that matter, any fan of football in general should enjoy Wayne Stewart’s book. It contains great stories, statistics, and information on all of the many great quarterbacks who came out of Western Pennsylvania and much more.” Raymond Berry, NFL Hall of Fame Wide Receiver



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