More Misinformation from a Journalist

While wrangling grandchildren in Bethesda, MD this weekend, my wife took the impressionable young minds into a bookstore. 12-year-old Joey, a bookie if there ever was one, picked up a copy of The Redskins Encyclopedia by Michael Richman. When he showed it to my wife, she immediately noticed several errors in a paragraph that deals with Lone Star Dietz. The offending paragraph can be found on page 3:

The hands-on Marshall fired Wray, too, and replaced him with William “Lone Star” Dietz, a part-blood Native American. Dietz recruited six football stars from the Haskell Indian School in Kansas, where he had once played with the great Jim Thorpe and later coached for four years. The recruits included “Chief” Larry Johnson, Louis “Rabbit” Weller, and John Orien Crow. The charismatic coach told his players to pose with war paint, feathers, and full headdresses before the 1933 home opener against the Giants.

Where to start? Let’s do them in the order they appear:

1. Dietz recruited six football stars from Haskell

I’ve read this elsewhere but can only verify that he brought four former Haskell students with him—the three Richman listed plus David Ward.

2. …from Haskell Indian School in Kansas…

They came from Haskell Institute (today’s Haskell Indian Nations University) in Lawrence, KS not Haskell Indian School.

3. …where he [Dietz] once played

There is no record of Dietz ever enrolling at Haskell Institute or playing on their football team. He did coach there from 1929 to 1932.

4. …where he [Dietz] once played with the great Jim Thorpe

Lone Star Dietz played with Jim Thorpe at Carlisle not Haskell.

Jim Thorpe attended Haskell Institute before attending Carlisle but did not play on the school’s football team.

What is discouraging is that the author is a veteran journalist and should know that he should have checked his facts. It would have taken him little time to find these errors had he just consulted my biography of Lone Star Dietz and Bob Wheeler’s biography of Jim Thorpe. It is no surprise that yet another journalist has made less than accurate statements about Jim Thorpe and Carlisle Indian School, but it is unfortunate because most readers accept that the author has his facts right and don’t check for themselves.

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