Archive for the ‘Frank Mt. Pleasant’ Category

Carlisle Indians Affected Receiver Out-of-Bounds Rules

December 5, 2015

One Saturday last month, I saw two plays that harken back to a play the Carlisle Indians ran. While sitting in the bleachers in The Big House in Ann Arbor watching the Michigan-Rutgers game, I missed seeing exactly what the players on the field did at the time it happened but did see the Michigan fans’ reaction to receiving an unsportsmanship conduct penalty for “attempting to deceive.” Tight end Jake Butts followed a group of players being substituted out of the game to the sideline but didn’t go off the field. Instead, he lined up on the line of scrimmage near the sideline. After the ball was snapped, the Michigan quarterback saw that Butts wasn’t covered by a defender and hit him with a pass for a 56-yard gain. The defense had been fooled but the officials weren’t. Coach Harbaugh protested the 15-yard penalty as only he can do but the officials were unmoved.

Later that day, Nebraska beat Michigan State on a pass completed to a receiver who had been out of bounds before returning to the field to make the catch. The officials ruled that the Michigan State defender had pushed the Nebraska receiver out of bounds and, under the rules, he was allowed to return to the field and catch a pass.

Both of these plays relate to the 1907 Carlisle-Chicago game played in Chicago against what Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg thought was one of his best teams. That year, Carlisle had a great pair of ends in Albert Exendine and William Gardner (both of whom became lawyers but that isn’t part of this story). Stagg’s defensive scheme involved hitting each end with three defenders, one at a time in succession, every time they went out for a pass. Before on play, Exendine told fullback Pete Hauser (who had passing responsibilities that day due to Frank Mount Pleasant being injured in the Minnesota game the previous week) to hold the ball as long as he dared then heave it as far as he could. Exendine let a defender push him off the field, then scooted behind the Chicago bench and streaked along the sideline until he was deep in Chicago territory. He dashed back onto the field and waved his arms wildly to get Hauser’s attention. Hauser arched the ball high downfield to the wide open Exendine for a touchdown.

A few years later when William Gardner was coaching duPont Manual High School in Louisville, he had one of his ends nonchalantly wander over to a group of sportswriters standing along the sideline. When the ball was snapped, the end headed downfield and the tailback hit him with a pass. Gardner’s only miscalculation was that he picked too slow a runner for this trick play. The play was only partially successful because his end was tackled before he could score a touchdown.

These plays are just two examples of how Carlisle Indians have affected football rulesmaking.

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100th Anniversary of 1912 Carlisle-Army Game

November 9, 2012

Follows is the short article I was asked to write for The Torch, the monthly magazine of the U. S. Army War College, to commemmorate the 100th Anniversary of the 1912 Carlisle-Army football game:

The Cadets of West Point took the field on The Plain November 9, 1912, aiming to avenge their 1905 loss to Carlisle Indian School in the two schools’ only previous battle, also on The Plain. Missing from the second battle were the players and coaches from both 1905 teams and Major William A. Mercer, Carlisle Superintendent and Calvary officer, who had arranged that game by gaining permission from the War Department. Also AWOL in 1912 were the large crowd, dignitaries, and media interest the first game attracted. Present in 1912 were Jim Thorpe, Gus Welch, Joe Guyon, Pop Warner, Leland Devore, Dwight Eisenhower, Babe Weyand (in the bleachers), and Pot Graves, a cast surely destined for a movie.

Ominous clouds filled the sky and a cold wind blew across the field, making passing and punting risky businesses. Both sides’ emotions ran high as the combatants craved a victory. Carlisle arrived undefeated, the only blemish on their record a scoreless tie with Washington and Jefferson College, a month earlier. Army was 3-1 with a 6-0 loss to Yale. Holding the Eli of Yale to only four first downs and a low score gave the Cadets hope for success over the Indians.

Newspaper accounts after the game never considered its outcome in doubt, but those looking only at the scoreboard, at least for the first half, may have thought otherwise. The Indians bested the Cadets for most of the first half but didn’t score due to errant forward passes in the end zone. The turning point of the second quarter came when Carlisle fullback Stancil “Possum” Powell was expelled from the game for punching Army quarterback Vern “Nig” Pritchard. The 27-yard penalty combined with Powell’s ejection dampened the Indians’ spirits. Army then moved the ball forward the remaining 27 yards with fullback Geoffrey Keyes pushing the ball across the goal line. Pritchard missed the kick after the touchdown.

Momentum shifted in the Indians’ favor on the kickoff opening the second half when All-America tackle and team captain Leland Devore jumped on Joe Guyon, who had been getting the better of him all day, getting himself thrown out of the game. Army defensive backs Dwight Eisenhower and Charles Benedict knocked each other out of the game for the rest of the quarter in a failed attempt to sideline Thorpe. The Indians scored 27 unanswered points to lick Army worse than any opponent had beaten them in many years.

Guiding The White Brethren

October 26, 2012

The electronic version of the Fall 2012 edition of the magazine for the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is finally out. My article on Carlisle Indians who went on to coach other teams is on page 46 (page 44 of print version). The idea for this article came to me after attending Lone Star Dietz’s enshrinement ceremony into the College Football Hall of Fame. He is the only Carlisle Indian to be inducted as a coach. Six others, some of whom also coached, were enshrined previously but as players. It is unlikely that any others will receive this honor because no other Carlisle Indian coached as long or with nearly as much success as Dietz.

American Indian athletic prowess is getting much attention this year due to 2012 being the 100th anniversary of Jim Thorpe’s extraordinary triumphs in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Games. Anyone unfamiliar with Native Americans’ success in the Olympics can read my several previous blog entries on this topic.

Worthy of note is that Dietz and the others had great success coaching white college and professional players. Many of them, including Dietz, coached Indian teams at one time or another but the vast majority of their coaching careers were with white college teams. Having played with Carlisle and knowing the Warner System gave these men instant credibility and opened doors for them. After going through those doors, success or the lack of it was the deciding factor. After all, sports have always been a meritocracy. Performance matters above all. Carlisle players succeeded on the field both as players and coaches. The graduate system of coaching that was tried in the early 20th century limited coaching opportunities for those who hadn’t attended major colleges but numerous smaller schools welcomed Carlisle Indians to lead their teams. Although far from an ideal situation, these men were given the opportunity to succeed or fail on their own merits and they largely succeeded.

http://content.yudu.com/A1yt4b/fall2012/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.americanindianmagazine.org%2Fabout-us

Today’s Event at the National Museum of the American Indian

August 17, 2012

Several decades ago, Robert W. Wheeler then a grad student at Syracuse hitchhiked coast to coast carrying an incredibly heavy reel-to-reel tape recorder to interview acquaintances of Jim Thorpe for his master’s thesis. The project grew as the miles rolled on. His budget, however, didn’t grow. But Bob persevered.

Years—it probably felt like decades—later, he had not just a master’s thesis but a full length biography of the world’s greatest athlete. After reading the book, Dick Schaap referred to Bob as Jim Thorpe’s Boswell, drawing an analogy to the thoroughness of his research in comparison to that done by James Boswell in documenting the life of Samuel Johnson. Since Wheeler’s book was first published, several other biographies of Thorpe have been written but they all draw on the painstaking work done by Wheeler.

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is celebrating of the 100th anniversary of Jim Thorpe’s triumphs in the Stockholm Games along with other Native Americans’ participation, many for medals, in the Olympics. The entrance to the exhibit features a blown up photograph of Carlisle Indian Frank Mt. Pleasant broad jumping in his Dickinson College track uniform. Here is a link to information about the exhibit: http://nmai.si.edu/explore/exhibitions/item/504/

Today, Bob Wheeler is giving a talk at the NMAI that I will be attending. Those unable to attend can hear Bob speak on the NMAI’s webcast of the event. Here is a link to the webcast: http://nmai.si.edu/calendar/?trumbaEmbed=date%3D20120817 Also speaking will be Flo Ridlon, Bob’s wife, who played a crucial role in getting Thorpe’s Olympic medals restored. Both are spellbinding speakers. This is an event not to miss.

Carlisle Indians as Coaches

June 8, 2012

While preparing the 1911 Spalding’s Guide for printing, I noticed that some former Carlisle players could be seen in the numerous 1910 team photos to be found in that volume.  That brought to mind an old newspaper article that I can’t lay my hands on now in which the writer opined as to why there were so few football coaches at a time when Carlisle Indian School players were grabbing headlines.  I don’t recall his reasoning or conclusions but do remember having read the article.

The truth is that several Carlisle Indian School players tried their hands at coaching with varying success.  The names that come quickly to mind are Bemus Pierce, Frank Cayou, Albert Exendine, Caleb Sickles, Lone Star Dietz, James Phillips, Joel Wheelock, Victor “Choc” Kelley, Mike Balenti, and Gus Welch (I keep adding names as they come to me while writing this article).  I’m sure there were others. Given enough time to research this issue, I’m sure that I could come up with more. But I don’t have the time right now because I must get the 1901 Spalding’s Guide ready to print.

The lengths of their careers varied, but Exendine, Welch and Dietz all had long coaching careers.  Of these, Lone Star Dietz had by far the most success and, as an acknowledgement of that success, was honored by the Helms Foundation many years ago. Next month, the College Football Hall of Fame will honor him. It is highly unlikely that any other Carlisle Indian will receive this honor because only a few had long careers and only Dietz, as far as we know, had a Hall of Fame worthy career as a coach.  Also, Exendine and Welch were already inducted as players. My immediate concern is not about the Hall of Fame but with 1910 team photos that include former Carlisle players.

Follows are two of the 1910 team photos.  I’ll leave it to the reader to find the Carlisle Indians in them, but here’s a hint: both wore their Carlisle letter sweaters.  I take that as an indication of how proud they were of having been part of those great teams.

Best in the World

May 29, 2012

Thursday evening, I had the pleasure of attending the kick off reception at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, DC for their new exhibit, “Best in the World: Native Athletes in the Olympics.”  This special exhibit, which runs through September 3, is timed to honor the 100th anniversary of the performance of two Carlisle Indians in the 1912 Stockholm Games but doesn’t limit itself to just their performances.  In fact, the first thing one sees upon entering the exhibit is a blown-up photograph of Frank Mt. Pleasant broad jumping while wearing his Dickinson College jersey.  He competed in the 1908 games in London.  The exhibit also includes a photo of Frank Pierce, younger brother of Carlisle football stars Bemus and Hawley, competing in the marathon in the 1904 Games held in conjunction with the St. Louis World’s Fair.  He is believed to have been the first Native American to compete for the United States in the Olympics.  Enough about the exhibit, you can see that for yourself.

At the beginning of the reception, the dignities present were introduced.  There is no mistaking Bill Thorpe due to his strong resemblance to his father.  Bill is lending the use of his father’s Olympic medals to the NMAI for this event.  Lewis Tewanima’s grandson was also present.  He took the time to explain the importance of the kiva to Hopi culture.  It was quite enlightening.  Billy Mills, who broke Lewis Tewanima’s record for the 10,000 meters and won the gold medal in the 1964 Olympics spoke and was taped by a cameraman as he walked from exhibit to exhibit.

Some writers were also in attendance.  Robert W. Wheeler, who wrote the definitive biography of Jim Thorpe, and his wife, Florence Ridlon, whose discovery of the 1912 Olympics Rule Book behind a Library of Congress stack made the restoration of Thorpe’s medals possible, was also present as was Kate Buford, the author of a recent Thorpe book.  The apple didn’t fall far from the Wheeler-Ridlon tree as their son, Rob, whose website, http://www.jimthorperestinpeace.com, supports the effort to have Jim Thorpe’s remains relocated to Oklahoma.

More about the exhibit can be found at http://nmai.si.edu/explore/exhibitions/item/504/

More About Warner’s 1912 Book

March 30, 2012

The endorsements at the bottom of the 1912 ad were the same as previously: one from Walter Camp and the other from an unnamed prominent athletic director.  Most of the ad is an endorsement written by Parke H. Davis.  The first paragraph is most interesting.

During the season of 1911 I made a critical study of the offensive and defensive tactics of the leading foot ball teams of the East.  At its conclusion my opinion was that the tactical system of the Carlisle Indian team was without any doubt the most ingenious and effective system of all.  Prompted thereby I have recently made a study of the ‘Course in Foot Ball for Players and Coaches,’ written by Glenn S. Warner, the Coach of the Carlisle  team.  This also is far and away the most advanced and scientific presentation of expert foot ball play in existence.  Mr. Warner’s course consists of twenty pamphlets, copiously illustrated with diagrams, drawings and photographs of players in action, exhaustive and complete, and covering every department of individual and team play.

Warner may have done the drawings or he may have enlisted Lone Star Dietz to do them or they each may have done some as they later did for Warner’s 1927 book.  That Dietz did the cover art for the 1912 book argues for his having done some of the interior illustrations.  Various “famous players” are photographed performing various football skills including kicking, punting, and catching punts.  Frank Mt. Pleasant is the only player specifically identified with a photo as Warner included three frames of Mt. Pleasant throwing a forward pass.  Each frame represents a different part in the throwing motion.  What looks to be a young, skinny Jim Thorpe is shown dropping the ball to punt it.  Gus Welch (possibly) is shown following through after punting the ball.

<more on the book next time>

1905 Carlisle Indians Were Ranked #10 in Country

August 8, 2011

While preparing Spalding’s Official Football Guide for 1906 for reprinting, I noticed a few things about the Carlisle Indian School football team’s 1905 season. These things caught my eye because it was this very team under Advisory Coach George Woodruff that Sally Jenkins maligned in her 1907 book. Caspar Whitney ranked the Indians as the 10th best team in the country for 1905. He also placed Frank Mt. Pleasant as a substitute at quarterback on his All America team.

George Woodruff placed three Carlisle Indians to his All Eastern Eleven for 1905: Frank Mt. Pleasant at quarterback, Charles Dillon at guard, and Wahoo (Charles Guyon, older brother of Joe Guyon) at end. N. P. Stauffer placed Dillon at guard on his All Eastern Eleven as well.

That an authority of the stature of Caspar Whitney considered Carlisle as the 10th best college football team in the country means something and that something is that the Indians were viewed as having had a very good season. Not their best ever, mind you, but a successful one at that.

These selections, along with George Orton’s observations that were posted in the June 27, 2011 message, show that Jenkins’s assessment of the type of play and success of the 1905 Carlisle Indian football team is at odds with the opinions of the experts of the day who actually saw the teams play.

1905 Carlisle Indian School football team from Spalding’s Official Football Guide for 1906

Carlisle Indians Continue to be Snubbed

March 11, 2011

The 2011 ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame came out this week with Lone Star Dietz’s name removed. This is yet another snub to a Carlisle Indian School player. Dietz has also been snubbed by the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame as a demonstration of their ingratitude. After all, where would the Rose Bowl be without Dietz? Nothing the College Football Hall of Fame does surprises me anymore. A few years ago, when Dietz should have been inducted, the selection committee ignored the votes for the seven coaches on that year’s ballot and selected two coaches who were not on the ballot because they were not eligible for induction due to the fact that they were still actively coaching. So, the ironically named Honors Committee, in an Animal Farm-like move, changed the rules to make these two eligible and selected them even though no voter received a ballot with their names on it. Unfortunately, Dietz isn’t the only Carlisle Indian to be snubbed by a Hall of Fame.

The Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame has failed to induct Olympian Frank Mt. Pleasant into even a regional chapter is astounding. If Mt. Pleasant’s football and track accomplishments at Carlisle aren’t enough, consider what he did elsewhere in Pennsylvania. That he has already been inducted in both the Dickinson College and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Halls of Fame indicates that he accomplished quite a bit while at each of those institutions on top of what he did at Carlisle. Frank is no stranger to being snubbed, as Walter Camp, who only gave him Honorable Mention on his 1907 All America team for being not rugged enough because he was too injured to play in the Chicago game, the Indians’ 11th game of the season. I’m not holding my breath for the PA Sports Hall of Fame doing the right thing anymore than I am for the College Football HoF. But these aren’t the only Carlisle Indians deserving of honors.

The College Football Hall of Fame does not have a category for athletic trainers but it does have a catch-all category called contributor, though. Wall ace Denny pioneered the role of athletic trainer first as a student at the Indian school and, later, as a member of the staff, and for decades after that with Pop Warner at Stanford and Temple. Before Denny started assisting Pop Warner with the care of the players’ bodies, there was no such thing as an athletic trainer as we know it. But Wallace Denny changed all that and should be remembered for it.

If Carlisle Indian School had a large alumni organization and could guarantee large ticket sales for induction events, these men might have a chance, but they don’t and little money would be raised by their selection.

Indians’ Legs Better Suited for Kicking

December 2, 2010

Pop Warner made many observations regarding his Carlisle Indian players, almost all regarding their behavior, much of which he thought was a result of their culture. But on one occasion he discussed an anatomical difference he had observed. Warner claimed that the lower legs of white boys and Indians were different. It was his observation that one group’s lower legs dropped straight down from the knee whereas the other’s curved outward.* It was this difference that gave the Indian boys an advantage in kicking the football over white boys.

Warner often mentioned how his Indian players would practice some skill endlessly, in some case for years, until they perfected it. An example was Frank Hudson who drop-kicked footballs year round including when there was snow on the ground. He simply moved indoors to the gym during inclement weather. Hudson also practiced with both feet until he became ambidextrous (it’s not clear if ambipedal is a word) and was able to dropkick field goals with either foot. He also became the game’s best dropkicker, arguably of all time. In addition to practicing a skill, Warner noticed that that the Indians watched proficient players’ closely to learn a skill. An example he gave was of Mike Balenti kicking four field goals, two from over 40-yards away, against Navy without having attempted one in a game before. Balenti attributed the success to his having watched Hudson and Frank Mt. Pleasant.

Warner thought that many more Carlisle players were good at kicking than were the white players he coached before and after because of a physiological advantage. He believed that the shape of Indians’ lower legs was better suited to kicking. It would be interesting to know if Warner was seeing things or if what he said is true.

*I misplaced the article in which Warner stated this and would appreciate it greatly if someone could inform me as to where I can find it.