Archive for April, 2013

Where was 1909 Carlisle-St. Louis U. game played?

April 12, 2013

Wednesday, I received a question about the location of the Carlisle-St. Louis University game played on November 25, 1909. Was it played in St. Louis or in Cincinnati was the question. A quick scan of Steckbeck’s Fabulous Redmen found it listed as having been played in Cincinnati. From experience, I have learned not to accept Steckbeck as gospel. He’s usually right, but not always. So, I checked with the Spalding’s Guides to see if they could shed any light on the issue. The 1909 Spalding’s Guide listed the game as being scheduled to be played in St. Louis. The 1910 Guide just gave the score.

Next, I searched newspapers for the day before the game, the day of the game, and the day after the game. Every mention of the game that included a location, far from all of them, placed the game in St. Louis. Many newspapers just gave the score or a brief summary. The November 24 Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader article began, “Seventeen redskins left the Carlisle Indian School last evening for the Thanksgiving game at St. Louis….” The November 26 New Orleans Times-Picayune’s coverage of the game was datelined St. Louis as did the Philadelphia Inquirer’s special.

The September 10, 1909 issue, Volume VI, Number 1 of The Carlisle Arrow listed the location of the game with St. Louis to be played in November in St. Louis. The November 26 edition included a sentence about their victory the previous day in St. Louis. The December 3, 1909 The Carlisle Arrow reprinted an article from the December 26, 1909 St. Louis Globe-Democrat that discusses the game played locally (to them) at National League park (home of the St, Louis Cardinals).

All references I found to that game, other than Steckbeck, place the game as being played in St. Louis at a venue larger than the hosting university’s home field. Perhaps he got confused with the 1906 or 1897 seasons when the Indians did play late season games in Cincinnati. He misplaced another game in Cincinnati: the 1905 game with Massillon Athletic Club which was actually played in Cleveland. Why that particular game was played where it was played is a story unto itself.

1909-11-26 Carlisle Arrow St Louis game

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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