A Boy Who Ran Away TO Carlisle Indian School

You have likely read about numerous Carlisle Indian School students who ran away but you probably haven’t read about any who ran away to Carlisle. I hadn’t. While checking out a student who was trying out for the football team in 1900, I encountered something I’d never heard of before. The son of a Chippewa mother and a German immigrant father was living on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota when, in 1891 when the boy was eight-years old, his parents sent him to the Educational Home in Philadelphia.

Originally set up to serve orphans from the Civil War, with few of them left, it shifted its mission to serve American Indian children. After staying there four years, the boy returned to his parents’ home in Minnesota.

Finding his home life abusive and seeing few opportunities on the reservation, he wanted something more out of life. Two months after returning, he saw an opportunity. Alice Parker, a rising senior at Carlisle Indian School, was recruiting students to return to Carlisle with her. The details of how the boy ran away from home to go with her are lost to posterity.What is known is that Miss Parker arrived at Carlisle on Saturday, September 5, 1896, bringing a group of 15 Chippewa students with her, one of which was a 13-year-old boy who was 5’3 ½” tall and weighed 101 pounds. As his student file no longer includes his application for admission, exactly how he got himself admitted without his parents’ permission is unknown.

He flourished at Carlisle. An avid reader, in June 1900 he led all students in the number of books he had checked out of the library to read. He enjoyed playing sports but was too small to make any of the varsity teams. Eventually, he started pitching batting practice to the baseball team in the gym over the winter. As he improved, Pop Warner put him on the baseball team. He also practiced with the football team and was allowed to eat at the training table. The heavier diet put weight on him and helped him to grow. Soon, he was the star pitcher and captain of the school’s baseball team. After graduating from Carlisle, he attended the Dickinson College prep school and pitched for the college squad, racking up victory after victory. In the spring of 1901, Connie Mack, legendary manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, came to Gettysburg to scout Gettysburg College’s star pitcher, lefty Eddie Plank, hurl against Dickinson College. Plank won the 15-inning game and Mack signed him to pitch for the Athletics. He also signed the Carlisle Indian who was pitching for Dickinson College but to a minor league contract for some seasoning.

Any guess who this right hander who ran away to Carlisle was? Hint. He and Plank are both enshrined at Cooperstown.

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One Response to “A Boy Who Ran Away TO Carlisle Indian School”

  1. raycm Says:

    Perhaps Charles Bender?

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