Pretty Boy – part 3

A May 4, 1915 letter from Superintendent Campbell of the Cheyenne River Agency to Oscar Lipps, Superintendent of Carlisle Indian School, stated, “…you are advised that Pretty Boy and Thomas Hawk Eagle represent one and the same person.” Carlisle officials continued to call him Thomas Hawkeagle as they had always done.

Sports reporters followed suit. Thomas Hawkeagle made the varsity squad in 1914. He didn’t start the first game of the season against Albright College, but got some playing time at right guard in place of Captain Elmer Busch. That pattern continued pretty much through the season. On December 6, in a game played in Atlanta against Auburn, he apparently became part of a football legend. The Auburn website cites a possible origin of the War Eagle cheer:

The 1914 contest with the Carlisle Indians provides another story. The toughest player on the Indians’ team was a tackle named Bald Eagle. Trying to tire the big man, Auburn began to run play after play at his position. Without even huddling, the Auburn quarterback would yell “Bald Eagle,” letting the rest of the team know that the play would be run at the imposing defensive man. Spectators, however, thought the quarterback was saying “War Eagle,” and in unison, they began to chant the resounding cry.

The problem with this explanation is that Carlisle had no player named Baldeagle or War Eagle. However, as we know, Hawkeagle was on the team. The Washington Post coverage of the game reported that Hawkeagle substituted for Hill at left guard in this game. Hawkeagle could have been misunderstood as War Eagle. Thomas Hawkeagle may live today if this attribution of the legend is true.

Next time – Part four of Pretty Boy’s tale.

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