Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Restore Jim Thorpe’s Records

July 16, 2020

Thanks in great part to Florence Ridlon’s and Bob Wheeler’s tireless efforts, Jim Thorpe’s Olympic medals were restored in 1983. That isn’t entirely accurate. Thorpe’s original medals were supposed to be kept secure in a museum but were stolen. So, the medals his children were given were commemorative ones, not their father’s actual medals. The IOC may have restored his medals, sort of, but only listed him as co-champion of the 1912 decathlon and pentathlon, the two multi-event competitions he won but his times, distances and points were not restored. The IOC records still list the second-place finishers as the winning marks. Now, people are trying to do something about that injustice.

BrightPathStrong.com is circulating a petition with the goal of restoring Jim Thorpe’s records. For those who might not be aware, Bright Path is the Anglicized version of Jim’s Sac and Fox name. Here is a link to their site:

https://brightpathstrong.com/petition

Redskins No More

July 13, 2020

It’s happened. The Redskins are no more. The NFL version that is, not the teams that play under that name on reservations. Management of the team formerly known as the Redskins announced today that it has caved under tremendous financial pressure to change the team’s name but didn’t announce what the new name would be. Whatever it is, it should not refer to Indians. Washington, DC doesn’t deserve that the way it has treated over the years—unless it is an honest name, that is. Here are few candidate names DC has earned:

Treaty Breakers

Beltway Bandits

Swamp Creatures

Pedophiles

Hair Sniffers

Pencil Necks

Turncoats

Log Rollers

Impeachers

Dementeds

Harrassers

Exposers

Lilylivers

Transgenders

One reason team owner Daniel Snyder hasn’t selected a new name is because Alexandria, Virginia real estate agent Philip Martin McCaulay has already trademarked a large number of those Snyder might consider. Coleman Bentley of Golf Digest pointed out some McCaulay missed:

Filibusters

Earmarks

Washingtons

8th Grade School Field Trips

Gun Lobbyists

Fortunate Sons

Perhaps a reader will think up a better choice. Snyder will need one that appeals to more new fans than the number of long-time ones he loses over his and the NFL’s recent capitulations.

 

1899 Cal Players Exploited

July 8, 2020

While researching the 1899 Christmas Day game between Carlisle Indian School and the University of California for an upcoming article, I learned that the Cal players had voted three times against playing in this post-season game. Initially, they gave fatigue from the season just finished and the need to study for final exams as the reasons for objecting to another game. What turned out to be the real reason was the money. Players complained that the Thanksgiving Day game against archrival Stanford had generated a lot of revenue but athletes received no benefits from it.

A major objection was that Cal’s athletes didn’t have a “clubhouse” in spite of generating lots of money and receiving nothing in return. Only after they’d wrested control of the finances from Manager Irwin J. “Jerry” Muma and transferred it to the athletic committee did the team agree to the tough, but potentially profitable, game with the Indians.

A major difference between then and now is that in the decades before the dawn of the NFL, athletic scholarships were not (officially) allowed. Student players generally paid full tuition and received nothing for their efforts, aside from the adulation of comely co-eds—unless alumni with deep pockets were generous with their money. The Cal players’ case for controlling the finances was considerably different than for today’s gladiators who get athletic scholarships, numerous perks not available to other students, and a shot at turning pro. Why should they have performed risky, unpaid labor for a college unwilling to use some of the profits for facilities that would improve athletes’ performance?

Balenti Played John Alden, Dietz Did Make Up

June 8, 2020

While trying to identify the unnamed Carlisle Indian School football player who posed for a photograph in St. Louis’s Union Station while waiting for the train to Lincoln, Nebraska, I stumbled across something I’d seen numerous times before. The program for “The Captain of Plymouth,” a comic opera in three acts was something I hadn’t paid attention to before because my primary interest was in football at the school, not the music program. This time, I gave it a look because included photos of students, some of whom were also football players.

Mike Balenti, who is in the middle of the Union Station photo, stands prominently in the back row third from the right in pilgrim garb on the Principal Cast photo. However, the program doesn’t list him as a member of the principal cast. It does relegate him to the First Tenors of the Sailors’ Chorus. Since it doesn’t make sense for someone included in the Principal Cast to just be in the Sailors’ Chorus, I explored further. The school newspaper covered the production but didn’t include photographs or mention Mike Balenti.

The school’s literary journal, The Indian Craftsman, included several photos and coverage of the production of the opera during Commencement Week. Mike Balenti got a good review for his performance:

“Michael Balenti, the famous goal kicker, was the John Alden. Michael, like all great athletes is modest, and his natural diffidence made him a perfect Alden. His wooing of the comely Priscilla might have suggested that he felt a real affection for the handsome Indian maiden who so convincingly simulated the Puritan beauty.”

I wasn’t able to find the mystery man in the opera photos but I don’t have a good eye for that. Perhaps someone else will spot him.

The program wasn’t a total loss. It credited Lone Star Dietz with doing the make up for the production. This adds yet another skill to the Dietz’s sizeable bag of tricks.

Who is the mystery player?

June 1, 2020

While trying to determine if Ina Eloise Young attended the Carlisle-Denver game in 1908, I came across a Nebraska newspaper article about the Indians’ trip west. Included were a group photo of the team complete with a legend hat identified all the players on the team. In addition, the caption related the story of how Emil Hauser changed his name. For a number of years, many thought Emil Hauser and Wauseka were two different people. Some years ago, Mike Balenti’s granddaughter shared that Emil took that name from the place he was playing a baseball game. This article attributes his renaming to Guy W. Green, owner and manager of a barnstorming baseball team called the Nebraska Indians when Emil caught for the team in 1905.

This photo and legend may also help with another identification problem. Mike Balenti’s granddaughter also shared a photo of him with four other Carlisle players posing on an automobile in Union Station in St. Louis on that 1908 trip west. She identified all the players except the one on the far right. Maybe you can help with that. The others are l-to-r Little Boy, Emil Hauser, Mike Balenti and Fritz Hendricks. Who can the other one be? Can you identify him from the team photo?

Ina Eloise Young

May 23, 2020

During a Zoom meeting Monday night, a text came in wanting to know if early sportswriters covered Jim Thorpe. I soon found a list of early female sportswriters. Most of them were younger than I am so were children or not born yet when he died. One was different. She was born in 1881 but, in later life, claimed 1883 as her birth year.

Ina Loise Young , was born in Brownwood, Texas into a family of baseball fans. They moved to Trinidad, Colorado in 1889. She played girls’ sports and enjoyed watching the local amateur and semipro baseball teams play so much she learned how to keep score. Lest you get the idea that keeping score in baseball is just a matter of tallying outs and runs, a sample scoresheet is provided to give you an idea of the complexity of filling it out. A skilled scorekeeper provides a detailed chronicle of what happened in the game.

Ina graduated from Trinidad High School as one of the four members of the class of 1900 and enrolled at the University of Colorado in Boulder. There, she participated on the fencing and girls’ basketball teams. Outside of class, she wrote about campus news as a correspondent to the Denver Post.

After two years at the University, she returned to Trinidad to work as a reporter for The Chronicle-News. She covered whatever came her way, including hard news. When the baseball season started in 1905, they needed someone who could keep score competently. She put her skills to use covering the local hardball scene. The next year she was elevated to Sporting Editor. In the summer of 1908, a wire service article about Ina, including a drawing of her, circulated around the country, introducing her to the eastern sports enthusiasts.

In the fall, The Chronicle-News sent her east to cover the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers. A few days after the World Series ended, the Baseball Writers Association was formed. Although not present, she was made an honorary member and was given a button that would gain her admission to any major league ballpark.

On December 5 of that year, the Carlisle Indian School football team, with Jim Thorpe at left halfback, played the University of Denver in Denver. She surely covered the game because it was the most important game played there to that time. However, I haven’t been able to find editions of The Chronicle-News for that time period. The Denver Post had employed Walter Eckersall of Chicago, who officiated the game as Field Judge, to write coverage of it along with their own sports department reporters and editor, so they didn’t carry her articles about it. The Rocky Mountain News-Denver Times articles carried no bylines. If they used Ina’s reporting, they would have tagged them as being written by her. Maybe some archive will have microfilms of the missing editions of The Chronicle-News.

 

 

 

Sampson Bird Fights the Pandemic

March 28, 2020

SamBird2The current pandemic brought to mind a favorite Carlisle Indian School football player. Sampson George Bird, son of John Bird, a white man of English descent, and Mattie Medicine Wolf, full-blood Piegan Blackfeet, lived on the Blackfeet Reservation near Browning, Montana, just east of present-day Glacier National Park before coming to Carlisle Indian School. Sam started receiving notice for his athletic ability at Carlisle in the fall of 1909, when he was elevated from the second team to the starting eleven. Because he was a lineman, he toiled in relative obscurity.

His social life, however, generated him more coverage in the school newspaper when he and his partner, Margaret Blackwood, Chippewa from Michigan, won three dance contests. After the school year ended, the couple left for Montana to be married. Their marriage barely survived the honeymoon because Margaret was stricken with spinal meningitis and died in August 1910.

Sampson returned to Carlisle, where he assisted Pop Warner in coaching the team while also playing right guard. At season’s end, he was elected captain of the 1911 team because he was “…one of the best players on the team, a heady player, a natural leader, and very popular among the players and students….” Coach Warner shifted him from guard to end and added an end-around play to the playbook. Sam led the team to its greatest season, beating two of the Big Four for only the second time in Carlisle history. The only blemish on their record was a one-point loss to an inferior Syracuse team on a wet field.

Off the field, he earned the reputation of being everyone’s best man by standing up for so many of his friends at their weddings. Soon after school’s end in May 1912, he married fellow student Margaret Burgess, Haida/Tlinget from Alaska, and operated his family’s ranches in Montana. They soon had a growing family. When the Great Influenza Pandemic struck, Sam Bird allowed no one on or off the ranch. Supplies from town were dropped off at the end of the lane for later pick up by the family. No one on the ranch got sick.

Athletic genes must run in Sam’s family because his grandchildren and great-grandchildren are stars on the Indian rodeo circuit.

Lone Star Dietz at Lehigh Exhibition

March 1, 2020

I just learned something new about Lone Star Dietz I didn’t know before. Andrew Jay maintains a blog about the artwork of Francis Quirk, someone I had never heard of before. In 1955, the Lehigh University Art Galleries held an exhibition of works done by Quirk, head of the department of fine arts at Lehigh, Joseph Brown, boxing instructor and associate professor of sculpture at Princeton University, Jose deRivera, formerly of Yale University and working on a Texas hotel project, and Lone Star Dietz, formerly of Reading, PA’s Albright College.

Here is a link to the Francis Quirk blog: http://francisquirk.blogspot.com/

Dietz’s contributions to the exhibit included his prize-winning landscape, “My Pittsburgh,” as well as several other famous portraits and landscapes not listed. All of these paintings were done in oil.

Because the descriptions of all but one of Dietz’s paintings are vague, I can speculate on only that one: his Pittsburgh painting. I have seen a cityscape of Pittsburgh done by Dietz, probably painted during the time he operated Liberty Academy of Advertising Art on Liberty Street in that city. The painting I saw is titled “Pittsburgh Just Grew.” However, on the back of the frame above that title is “My Pittsburgh.”

The painting is now owned by Joel Platt, owner of the Sports Immortals museum in Boca Raton, Florida. If you’re ever in South Florida, a visit to the museum is worth your time. Rather than telling you about the museum, I’m providing a link to its web page. Platt has an extraordinary collection of sports memorabilia, including items from Carlisle Indian School and Jim Thorpe. http://sportsimmortals.com/

Below are photos of “Pittsburgh Just Grew” being held by Joel Platt and the back side of the painting with an inscription written by Lone Star Dietz. This painting is surely the one he showed at the Lehigh exhibit.

(more…)

Carlisle Indians in the Movies

January 9, 2020

5.4 Yellow fort

A photo of The Yellow Menace being shot

Sometimes something goes full circle when you least expect it. On a recent trip to St. Augustine, Florida, I looked into a few things I only had the vaguest understanding of. I was well aware that, around 1875, Richard Henry Pratt was assigned to confine captive plains Indians taken in combat at a place 2,000 miles from their homeland on the prairie. The place was Fort Marion. I knew it was located near St. Augustine but that was about it. A visit to Castillo de San Marcos, built by the Spanish between 1672 and 1695, informed me that this impenetrable fort was the place of incarceration. Old photographs taken during the 1875-1878 period of confinement supported this.

When the U. S. purchased Florida from Spain,  the Castillo was renamed Fort Marion. It was there that Pratt conceived the radical view that American Indians were educable and need not be eradicated. Prior to coming to Fort Marion, Pratt had led a troop of Buffalo Soldiers in the 10th Cavalry and had worked closely with Indian scouts (from tribes that were enemies of the ones he was fighting). At Fort Marion, he dressed the prisoners in cavalry uniforms and assigned trustees to guard their brethren. As a practical matter, escape was pointless with the Atlantic Ocean on the east and land that was foreign to plains Indians in all other directions.

Pratt allowed Quaker ladies who wintered nearby to teach the prisoners to read and write. The prisoners taught them archery and sold Sunday visitors their artwork. His experiences here led Pratt to open Carlisle Indian Industrial School at the former site of the army’s cavalry school at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

While researching the lives of Carlisle Indian School football players, I learned that three (possibly more) of them matriculated at Keewatin Academy in Wisconsin after leaving Carlisle. That the three were all Chippewa from Minnesota may have been coincidental but they appeared to be friends. Leon Boutwell and Joe Guyon joined the football team that was coached by their former schoolmate, Peter Jordan (sometimes spelled Jourdan). After the end of the regular season, the academy migrated to its winter campus in St. Augustine, where it extended its season by playing against southern football teams—until it was time to prepare for the baseball season.

Unknown to me, until I received a photograph of Boutwell and Guyon made up to look like Chinese men, was that St. Augustine had hosted a bustling movie colony years before film makers escaped to Hollywood, California to avoid enforcement of Thomas Edison’s patents. Thomas Graham, professor emeritus of history at Flagler College, has documented that colorful history in Silent Films in St. Augustine. He identified the location in the photo of Boutwell and Guyon was the doorway to the chapel at Fort Marion and that they were probably playing characters in the 1916 serial film The Yellow Menace.

Professor Graham has also graciously allowed me to use a photograph taken of the shooting of the film. He explained, “Most of the ‘Oriental’ men in the movie were local black St. Augustinians, although the local newspaper ran a want ad by the movie company for ‘short statured’ white men–evidently to play Asians. The uniformed soldiers are Florida National Guardsmen and the guns are Gatling machine guns.” Although their movie careers were short, Boutwell and Guyon were far from finished.

After serving in the 14th Field Artillery Band at Fort Sill during WWI, Leon Boutwell went on to play in the NFL for the Oorang Indians under the name Little Cyclone. After the team folded, he put his training from Carlisle as a printer to work, eventually owning and operating The Daily Telegram in Mechanicsburg, Ohio.

During WWI Joe Guyon played for the Georgia Tech “Golden Tornado” championship football team where an assistant coach said, “Tackling him was like grabbing an airplane propeller.” He played for several teams in the NFL, often alongside Jim Thorpe, and minor league baseball teams. He is enshrined in both College and Professional Football Halls of Fame.

Boutwell Guyon as Chinese

Joe Guyon (left) and Leon Boutwell (right) in costume

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Was Dietz Doing?

November 18, 2018

Lone Star - OregonianWhat did Lone Star Dietz do between early February of 1920, the time he left the Spokane, Washington jail after completing his 30-day incarceration, and late March 1921, when he signed with Purdue to coach their football team?

Dietz was broke in late 1919 after investing heavily in Washington Motion Picture Company. Having no money for his legal defense forced him to plead nolo contender to the draft-dodging retrial after the first one produced a hung jury locked at 8 to 4 for acquittal. An apparently sympathetic district attorney agreed to the wrist slap sentence in the county jail instead of a long one in a federal penitentiary like those given to others in the post-WWI hysteria. The news article announcing his release stated that he had been a “trusty” the last two weeks of his incarceration that began on January 8, 1920.

One can easily envision the affable Dietz playing cards with his jailers a la Rhett Butler—except that he had no money to gamble with. What he did afterwards is still unclear. Newspaper articles covering his release his release made no mention of his plans for the immediate future. He may have promoted Fools Gold, the movie he played a role in and helped fund, but that would have required finances on which to live. Another possibility is that he did movie work in Hollywood. He had experience and could have acted or done stunt work or various things behind the camera. That would have been a way for him to earn a paycheck. Football was out of season, so that wasn’t a possibility.

The Encyclopedia of Football, 15th Revised Edition by Roger Treat listed Dietz as having played guard for the Hammond Pros NFL team. At 36, Dietz would have been old, and likely too out of shape to play much. However, it would have brought him east and more available for other opportunities.

The November 12, 1920 edition of The Evergreen, Washington State College’s school newspaper, listed “Veteran Cougar Coaches.” According to this piece, Dietz was “Now engaged in theatrical business in New York.” A January 10, 1921 article in The Seattle Star titled “‘Lonestar’ Dietz Playing Behind N. Y. Footlights” had him “…playing behind the footlights in Woodward’s New York theatre.”

I have been unable to find out anything about Mr. Woodward or his theater. Any help in that regard would be most appreciated.

The March 229, 1921 edition of The Lafayette Journal Courier announced the hiring of Lone Star Dietz to lead Purdue’s varsity football team. That article also said that “…for the last two years he has been engaged in business activities on the west coast.”

Clearly, more information is needed to determine exactly what Dietz had occupied himself doing those thirteen-plus months between jail and Purdue football.