Archive for the ‘Gus Welch’ Category

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.

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>

The 1911 Carlisle Upset of Harvard – Part 2

November 17, 2011

Carlisle received the opening kick off and moved the ball quickly to Harvard’s end of the field but were unable to push the ball across the goal line. They turned the ball over on downs at the Harvard 2-yard line. On their second possession, the Indians bogged down well into Harvard territory and Jim Thorpe kicked a field goal from the 15-yard line to open scoring for the game. Harvard soon countered when Hollister drop-kicked a field goal of his own to tie the score. There was no further scoring in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Carlisle rushed the ball to Harvard’s 40-yard line but could get no further on this drive. Thorpe then kicked his second field goal of the game from 47 yards out. Unfortunately for the Indians, they would later fumble the ball and a Harvard player, Hollister, recovered it on the 50-yard line. On the next play, Reynolds broke through the Indians’ line and, after the Indians thought he was down, popped to his feet and ran for a Harvard touchdown and 9-6 lead at halftime. Note that touchdowns were worth 5 points and the goal after 1 point while field goals counted 3 points at that time.

After a series of line plunges late in the third quarter, Alex Arcasa pushed the ball over for Carlisle’s only touchdown of the day. Thorpe kicked the point after. Thorpe also kicked another field goal to close out scoring for that quarter. Harvard put in its fresh first team for the fourth quarter and made good yardage at first, but the Indian line eventually held. Thorpe kicked his fourth field goal of the day to complete Carlisle’s scoring. Harvard would get its second touchdown for the day when Storer blocked Thorpe’s punt from the 36-yard line, recovered the ball, and ran it in for a touchdown. Fisher completed the scoring for the day at 18-15 by kicking the point after touchdown. Carlisle almost had a touchdown of their own in a similar fashion but, instead of falling on the ball, several players attempted to pick it up and run with it. A Harvard player eventually fell on the ball behind his goal line for a touchback.

Possum Powell excelled at line plunging throughout the day while Gus Welch, Arcasa and the badly injured Thorpe ran around the ends. The Carlisle line, without Captain Sam Bird for the whole game and Bill Newashe for most of it, outplayed the Crimson line making the backs’ gains possible.

This game has been rated as one of the greatest college football games of all times by experts.

All-Indian Backfield

November 25, 2010

While doing a little research at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio recently, I came across a photocopy of a newspaper article titled “Backfield of Indians—Plan of Jim Thorpe.” The article began by saying that Thorpe planned on fielding an Indian backfield for the Canton Bulldogs during the 1919 season. The name of the newspaper and date were not on the copy but the paper must have been local to Canton or nearby Massillon because the third paragraph began, “Guyon’s presence here…” which implies that the paper is local to the team’s location. Discussing the possible line-up for the 1919 season suggests that the article was written after the end of the 1918 season, definitely after Armistice in November 1918. Sometime in 1919 is more likely because the article stated, “…will reach shores not later than September.”

The writer discusses how Thorpe plans to reunite with three of his former Carlisle teammates all in Canton’s backfield. Gus Welch would play quarterback (blocking back in the single-wing, wingback in the double-wing), Joe Guyon and Thorpe would be the halfbacks, and Pete Calac would be the fullback. All had played together on the 1912 Indian team but Guyon and Calac were needed on the line to replace Lone Star Dietz and Bill Newashe at the tackle positions because they were no longer playing on the team. Welch, Guyon and Calac were all in the backfield on the 1913 edition but Thorpe had departed by then.

Thorpe’s dream of being reunited fell through because Gus Welch took the head coaching position that had opened up with Lone Star Dietz’s dismissal. Thorpe, Calac and Guyon played pro ball together for several years and won championships in 1919 and 1920. Thorpe tried to field the same all-Indian backfield in 1917 but Joe Guyon elected to play college ball for National Champions Georgia Tech, was named to Walter Camp’s All America Second team at halfback, the same honor he received in 1913, his last year at Carlisle.

Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals is Out Now

September 2, 2010

The second volume of the Native American Sports Heroes Series is now out and available to readers. Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals was released yesterday and is expected to be of interest to libraries and readers interested in Native American history, sports and government Indian boarding schools. This book follows the following players from their youths on the reservation, through their times at Carlisle to their later lives:

  • Chauncey Archiquette
  • Wilson Charles
  • Wallace Denny
  • Lone Star Dietz
  • Louis Island
  • James Johnson
  • Frank Lone Star
  • Jonas Metoxen
  • Thomas St. Germain
  • Caleb Sickles
  • George Vedernack
  • Gus Welch
  • Hugh Wheelock
  • Joel Wheelock
  • Martin Wheelock
  • Charles Williams
  • William Winneshiek

Readers will learn who became doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs. Some became musicians and led all-Indian bands. One was invited to join Richard Byrd’s Second Antarctic Expedition. Another was instrumental in establishing the Rose Bowl. Readers will also learn more about the naming of the Washington, DC NFL team and about the all-Indian NFL team. Several served in WWI even though non-citizen Indians were not drafted. Most lived long, productive lives but some didn’t. Some married girls they met at Carlisle, others married white girls and still others married girls from the reservation. One even married a congressman’s daughter.

The reading level is such that anyone from seventh grade through senior citizen can appreciate it and It is my hope that school children will read it to gain a better understanding of their history.

Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals

May 13, 2010

Yesterday, a reader asked about Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals, wondering if it would be a series of blogs or a book. That tells me it’s time to talk about it a bit. Last year I wrote Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals, Volume I of the Native American Sports Heroes Series. I have now completed Volume II of that series. Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals will be released on September 1. Like the earlier book, it follows 17 football stars with ties to a particular state, Wisconsin in this case, from their childhoods on the reservation, generally, to their time at Carlisle, and through their later lives. Background chapters on Carlisle Indian School, its legendary football teams, and coach “Pop” Warner set the stage for the individual biographies.

Not included are busts of the players drawn by Bob Carroll. Bob graciously drew those for Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals just before the end of his life. In their place, is a map that shows all the Indian Reservations in the state of Wisconsin which is intended to assist the reader in knowing where these people spent their early childhoods and, in some cases, returned to after finishing at Carlisle.

Chapters are included for:

Chauncey Archiquette

Wilson Charles

Wallace Denny

Lone Star Dietz

Louis Island

James Johnson

Frank Lone Star

Jonas Metoxen

Thomas St. Germain

Caleb Sickles

George Vedernack

Gus Welch

Joel & Hugh Wheelock

Martin Wheelock

Charles Williams

William Winneshiek

It is my hope that historians, teachers and librarians review this book and make it more available to students who would learn a lot about how disadvantaged people overcame obstacles to excel.

Copies of the softcover version of Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals are now in stock for June 1st release.

Seek Restoration of Indian School

April 12, 2010

When looking for information on Asa Sweetcorn, I found a 1935 United Press article in which he was mentioned that had nothing to do with his exploits while at Carlisle. Titled “Seek Restoration of Indian School,” the article, datelined Carlisle, Pa., March 15, the article told of former Carlisle Indian School students’ attempt to reopen the school. Charles Dillon, who is best known for his role as “humpback” in the “hidden ball” play run against Harvard in 1903, spearheaded the movement. “Dillon, one of the greatest of the long line of football heroes who wore the colors of the old Indian School, was in town the other day sounding out sentiment on the proposed return of the Redskins.”

Dillon was on his way to Washington, DC to pry loose a few New Deal dollars to launch the program. He felt that little government money would be required to fund the school. He told some old friends in Carlisle, “Our aim is to build a college with Indian money, to be conducted by and for Indians. And only a comparatively few dollars are needed from the government to launch the program.” According to Mr. Dillon, “Scores of graduates of the erstwhile Carlisle Indian School are ready to contribute thousands of dollars toward establishing the school.”

He was to return to Carlisle the following week after negotiating with New Deal officials. Accompanying him were Jim Thorpe, Gus Welch, Albert “Chief” Bender and Asa Sweetcorn. That was a bad time for Indian schools to pry money out of the government. Lone Star Dietz left Haskell Institute in 1933 to coach the Boston Redskins after the government slashed Haskell’s budget. Gus Welch was well aware of funding issues as he replaced Dietz at Haskell. It is easy to understand why Dillon, Thorpe, Bender and Welch supported the initiative because they flourished at Carlisle. Sweetcorn’s involvement is curious because he was “canned” in Carlisle for his antics that reflected less than a studious attitude.

Sweetcorn Fools Sally Jenkins

March 30, 2010

Last time, Asa Sweetcorn explained his strategy for getting more attention from sportswriters to Gus Welch. As it turns out, the wily Indian continued to fool sportswriters long after his death. Welch described his former teammate: “This Sweetcorn was a very rugged Indian, although he only weighed about 160 pounds and probably nowadays [1933] would just be turned over to the intramural department.”

On page 258 of The Real All Americans, Sally Jenkins describes Sweetcorn: “He was an enormous, brawling, swilling man who wore size twenty-one collars and was able to ram his head through a wooden door in a liquored-up stupor.” Welch definitely didn’t describe Sweetcorn as being enormous. To the contrary, at about 160 pounds he was far from large as a football player in his day. Two decades later, he would not be given a chance to make the varsity in Welch’s opinion.

A photo of Sweetcorn in his Carlisle Indian School football uniform supports Welch’s description. He appears to be no larger than average size and without a thick neck. If Asa ballooned up to the size Jenkins described, it must have been after he left Carlisle.

The condition of Sweetcorn’s jersey in the photo supports Welch’s assertion that he received quite a beating in some games. Why he was wearing that particular jersey is unknown. What is known is that new jerseys were in limited supply. Each year, the varsity players got new jerseys and handed their old ones down to the second team who handed them down to the third team or the junior varsity who in turn handed their old ones down to the shop teams. It’s likely that his old jersey was in better shape than this one, but he may have worn this one as a badge of honor to reflect his toughness.

Asa Sweetcorn, Carlisle’s Wild Man

March 26, 2010

As so often happens, I came across an interesting article when looking for something else. This time it was a 1933 interview of Gus Welch by Alan Gould of the Associated Press. By this time Gus Welch had gained a reputation as a great storyteller, having won the coveted Brown Derby Award at annual coaches conferences. For whatever reason, no award was made in 1933 but Welch told an interesting story about, as were many of his stories, a teammate at Carlisle. He recalled a headstrong player named Asa Sweetcorn who, as a running guard [probably a pulling guard in modern parlance], felt that his contributions were being disregarded in Warner’s newspaper columns. He reacted by drawing attention to himself. Instead of running plays as his coach diagrammed, Sweetcorn “…would go ripping around an end, legs and arms flying, making gestures at everybody but taking out nobody. I took him aside to find out what was going on. Slyly he wispered to me: `Gus, that’s psychology. I keep `em all worried and guessing and then they say, My what a great running guard this Sweetcorn is.’”

 Reporters rewarded him with positive mention in their columns and opposing teams started to take notice of him. Navy concentrated much of their effort against Sweetcorn to his detriment. Soon he was groggy and bloody. At half-time, Pop suggested that a substitute be sent in for him. Welch responded, “No, this Sweetcorn is just faking. Let him stay in.” After taking terrible beatings game after game, Asa began to wise up a bit but not completely. Lying on the field badly beaten in a game, he had about reached the limit of punishment he could withstand, he said something to Welch about needing a “medicine man” but Welch disagreed, “Never Mind medicine man; send for a priest.”  

 Next time, find out how Sweetcorn fooled Sally Jenkins.

Gus Welch Was a Redskin

February 13, 2010

While working on Gus Welch’s chapter for the upcoming “Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals,” I read a letter in his Carlisle Indian School file that he wrote to Superintendent John Francis in June 1917 about his experiences in Reserve Officers Training Camp at Fort Niagara, New York. Most of the letter dealt with the severe headaches Welch was suffering at the rifle range. After fracturing both his cheekbone and the base of his skull in a collision with Ray “Iron Eich” Eichenlaub in the 1914 Notre Dame game, Gus disobeyed doctor’s orders and checked himself out of the hospital prematurely. His physician described his injury as one “…which requires absolute rest to insure a future without invalidism, such as epilepsy, paralysis, deafness or loss of sight, any one of which might develop in after years from recklessness or negligence at this time.” Fortunately for Gus, none of these things happened, but not by much.

Gus also wrote about the standards he held himself to: I have done my best, keeping always in mind that I was a Carlisle man. I also had to remember that I was the only Redskin in camp, and of course my errors would naturally look larger than the other fellows.” It is significant that he referred to himself as a Redskin, something he was proud of being. Welch was no shrinking violet or “Uncle Tom.” When the Federal Government appropriated some of his land for a highway, he didn’t take it lying down. He fought them as hard as he could, using his legal skills learned at Dickinson School of Law and in his years of practice.

This is evidence that, less than 100 years ago, Redskins was not a derogative term. It seems not to have been derogative until some activists “discovered” alternative meanings in the 1960s.