Dietz’s Incarceration

One of the several mysteries surrounding Lone Star Dietz is what transpired between the time he surrendered himself to authorities to serve his 30-day sentence on January 8, 1920 and the third week of March, 1921 when he interviewed for the head coaching job at Purdue. Most of the missing thirteen months remains a mystery but a chance discovery sheds light on a tiny bit of it.

A February 11, 1920 article from the Anaconda Standard briefly discussed his incarceration. Just across the Idaho panhandle from southern Washington State, the Standard often covered Washington State news. Whether this piece was original or was copied from a Spokane newspaper has not yet been determined. That the article was not published the day after Dietz’s sentence was completed argues for its not being an original article.

“LONE STAR DIETZ FREE MAN AGAIN” headed the short piece. The article made clear that he pleaded “nolo contendre” to the charges. “He did not plead guilty to the falsification charge, but under a provision of the federal statute simply made no resistance to the accusation.” A Portland Oregonian article written the day of his incarceration revealed a little about his demeanor when he arrived at the jail. It explained that Dietz arrived at the Spokane County Jail to serve a Federal sentence at 4:00 p.m. wearing the same light gray suit he wore throughout his trial. The photo accompanying this article depicted him in formal attire, not the business suit he wore at the time. “He seemed somewhat nervous as he entered the marshal’s office to give himself up to the authorities. Later, as he sat in the marshal’s office and chatted with employees, he seemed to gather himself together and laughed and chatted about his case.” Apparently enjoying having a celebrity who was unlikely to cause trouble in their midst, the jail workers made him feel at home—to the extent one can feel at home in the hoosegow.

Other than that, nothing was previously known regarding what happened while he was in jail but it was correctly assumed he served his sentence without incident. The Standard article tells us that he served in typical Dietz fashion: “During the last two weeks of his confinement in the jail, Dietz was listed as a ‘trusty’ and given the privileges of the jail.” That was not surprising in the least. Now to find out what he did after walking out of the jail.

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One Response to “Dietz’s Incarceration”

  1. Steve Carey Says:

    This must have been a very difficult time for Dietz. His wife (noted artist Angel De Cora) had just died less than a year prior. It was reported by the press a few months ago (in regards to Dietz being inducted into the CF HoF) that he plead “no contest” to the charge as he didn’t have the funds for legal representation for the re-trial (the first time around resulted in a hung jury). Thank you for this interesting, update!

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