Archive for the ‘James Johnson’ Category

Hidden Ball Play Mystery

January 27, 2011


Pop Warner told a different story on page 104 of his autobiography:

“When I was coaching at Cornell in 1897, I had the scrub team work the hidden ball play against the varsity in a practice game. The later in the season against Penn State, the hidden ball play was used for the first time in a game. In those days, Penn State was not as strong on the gridiron as they would later become and this game was merely a workout for Cornell.

“This play was used only once in the game and this was late in the fourth quarter after Cornell had already secured a big lead on the scoreboard….And the play worked like a charm. The Cornell ballcarrier untouched and scored a touchdown.”

Warner also wrote about how he had elastic installed in the hem of Charles Dillon’s jersey sometime before the 1903 Carlisle-Harvard game and how James Johnson placed the ball up the back of Dillon’s jersey after receiving the kickoff that opened the second half of the game. After Dillon crossed the goal line, another player (probably Johnson) removed the ball from his jersey and touched it down as was required by the rules at that time.

Determining the accuracy of Warner’s claim that his first use of the hidden ball play was in the 1897 Cornell-Penn State game could easily be verified by asking Joe Paterno as it would have happened early in his tenure in Happy Valley. Determining the accuracy of Heisman’s claim will be more difficult. It will likely require the perusal of newspaper coverage of the game by at least the Atlanta Constitution and the two schools involved. However, lack of mention in newspaper coverage doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t happen because sportswriters often get things wrong.

I guess we will have to wait for Jeff Miller’s biography of Pop Warner to know who first used the hidden ball play.

Carlisle Causes Eligibility Rule Changes

September 28, 2010

The on-field influences the government Indian schools, Carlisle mostly but also Haskell to some extent, had on the development of college football are well known. Less well-known are the impacts on the rules under which the game is played. Most football historians are aware that Carlisle Indian School was frequently criticized for not adhering to eligibility rules similar to those agreed to by the major colleges. In 1908, Pop Warner instituted a limit of four years of eligibility on the varsity team for Carlisle’s players. Years spent riding the bench without playing were most likely not counted against the four years. Something that is not known as well is that major colleges routinely ignored the fact that players they recruited from Carlisle had already played for four years prior to enrolling in college. That was about to change in 1905 if some had their way.

A November 29, 1904 article datelined Chicago that was printed in The Boston Globe announced that eligibility rules were about to be enforced more stringently, at least by some schools. “A meeting of representatives of leading western colleges” (read Big Ten) agreed on rule changes to which they were to comply. Two schools were singled out specifically: “Carlisle and Haskell Indian Schools, two formerly unclassified institutions, were raised to the ranks of colleges, and students who have competed for four years from those institutions in the future will not be allowed to compete in events controlled by western colleges.” Since Carlisle and Haskell seldom played more than a total of two games a year against the schools that became the Big Ten, this rule was probably aimed at the schools themselves. Several former Carlisle players had played for these schools after having used up their eligibility at the Indian school. Some that come quickly to mind are: Frank Cayou, Illinois; James Johnson, Northwestern; James Phillips, Northwestern; William Baine, Wisconsin; and Ed Rogers, Minnesota.

Next time – Freshmen.

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.

Hidden Ball Play Was More Complicated that It Appeared

August 26, 2010

I was just reviewing some materials on the hidden ball play that Carlisle ran successfully against Harvard in 1903 and learned that getting the play off correctly was more complicated than it seemed. For starters, the kickoff had to be deep enough to give the players time to assemble around the person who received the kick, James Johnson in this case. The Harvard kicker put his first kick out of bounds and had to rekick. There must not have been much of a penalty for that in those days because he was able to put the second kick on the goal line.

Johnson’s teammates had to line up precisely to make the other team think they were forming a wedge to block for Johnson. Room for Johnson to stand next to Dillon was essential to making the play work. It was (and probably still is) illegal to hand or pass the ball forward on a kickoff. The ball had to go backward or laterally. By standing alongside Dillon, Johnson was able to reach back to place the ball under his jersey, thus keeping the play legal. Doing it this way also screened what was he was doing from the prying eyes of the Harvard defenders.

Another potential hurdle that has to be cleared is the official. An official who is unfamiliar with the play may incorrectly disallow the touchdown and penalize the team for running it. Warner took care to inform the Referee, Mike Thompson of Georgetown, that the play was to be run so that he would pay special attention to the handoff and make sure that it was legal.

By paying attention to all the little details, including selecting a ball carrier with speed, especially for a big man, Warner pulled off a trick that is still being talked about over a century later.

Wing-Shift or Dead-Indian Play

July 19, 2010

One of the problems with dating Pop Warner’s innovations is that his memory 20 years after the fact was far from perfect, as are most people’s. The well-known difficulties in dating the births of the single-wing and double-wing with certitude are due, at least in part, to Warner’s inconsistent memories. A month and a half ago, I wrote a bit about the 1903 game with Utah in which Joe Baker led the Indians to a 22-0 win over the Mormonites by running the new wing-shift play several times for three second-half touchdowns (they counted 5 points in those days).

In his autobiography—actually a series of magazine articles written by Warner that were compiled into book form—Warner stated that during the 1912 Thanksgiving Day game against Brown, Harvard’s coach, Percy Haughton, was his guest on the sidelines to see Warner’s new surprise play—the wing-shift. Haughton disapproved, saying, “These series plays are never worth a darn. If such plays do work, it is usually in the first attempt, because they are trick plays and surprise is the feature that usually makes them successful.” After seeing Carlisle run them for long gains later in the game, Haughton grudgingly admitted, “Well, it did work that time.”

For a newspaper series of favorite plays from several coaches in the 1930s, Lone Star Dietz described the “Dead-Indian Play.” What he described was the old wing-shift that Carlisle ran so well. Because the wing-shift, or dead-Indian play, was a series of two plays it had to be called ahead of time. The player, generally a back, who carried the ball on the first play would linger on the ground long enough to give six of his teammates time to line up to one side of him. The rest would position themselves in the backfield. When the downed man could see that all were in place, he hopped up and snapped the ball to a backfield man to start the second play, catching the defense off guard.

1903 Carlisle-Utah Game

May 31, 2010

Not long ago, I wrote about a 1910 game that had received little coverage. Now, Adam Miller has written about a 1903 game that received even less attention. In 1903, Pop Warner put together a post-season road trip to the West Coast on which the Indians were to play Reliance Athletic Association, a team of the best former college players from the state of California, on Christmas Day in San Francisco. Perhaps Warner thought his team would need a scrimmage to break up the trip, or he saw an opportunity to make a little money along the way. Regardless of the reason, he booked a game with the University of Utah to a game to be played on December 19 in Salt Lake City. Miller’s piece covers that game: http://utahfootballcountdown.blogspot.com/p/december-19-1903-utah-vs-carlisle.html. It also includes one of those great period newspaper cartoons.

Pre-game hype heaped hyperbolic praise on James Johnson, who Walter Camp had recently named as quarterback of his All America First Team. Whether Johnson’s head had inflated after reading his newspaper clippings or if Warner was feeling threatened is not known. Warner wrote in what became his autobiography that he benched Johnson the morning of the game over a rule infraction. Because this happened before the game, the rule Johnson had broken was likely a team rule. Warner wrote that he played Joe Baker in his place and that Baker “did an admirable job that afternoon” in the 22-0 victory on a snowpacked field. Newspaper coverage of this game varies from Warner’s recollection.

The Salt Lake Herald’s play-by-play had Johnson playing the entire first half plus kicking a point after touchdown and missing a field goal. Baker replaced Johnson for the second half and led the Indians to three more touchdowns by using the then-new wing-shift play to good advantage.

It may be that Warner’s memory failed him as to when he benched Johnson, but he does appear to have done just that. Johnson’s reaction is the subject of another story.

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.

Carlisle’s First All-America Selections

July 23, 2009

While researching the 1905 Carlisle-Massillon game for an article in an upcoming issue of the Professional Football Researchers Association’s (PFRA) journal, The Coffin Corner, I came across a statement in the late Robert W. Peterson’s Pigskin: the early years of pro football that caught my eye. Of course it has nothing to do with the article but it made me curious.

Peterson wrote, “It was not sectional chauvinism at work when 129 out of 132 All-American berths between 1889 and 1900 were filled by players from those four schools [Harvard, Yale, Princeton & Penn]. The best players were really there.” I recalled that Carlisle’s first Walter Camp first team All-American was Isaac Seneca in 1899. If Peterson was accurate, that would put Seneca and the Carlisle program at a lofty level.

The Walter Camp website lists all of his All-America teams beginning in 1892 when he created the concept of such a team. Sure enough, all the players named were from the Big Four until 1895 when Cornell’s Clinton R. Wyckoff was named to the team. The next non-Big Four player to be named was Clarence B. Herschberger of Chicago in 1898. Seneca became the third in 1899. The fourth was William Morley of Columbia in 1900. Whether Peterson was right depends on the meaning of between. Does between include the 1900 team?

Things changed a lot in 1901 when four outsiders were selected: two from Army, one from Cornell (Pop Warner’s younger brother) and one from Columbia. In 1902, Paul B. Bunker of Army, a repeat from the previous year, was the only non-Big Four player on the list. And in 1903, Carlisle had its second All-American in the person of James Johnson. H. J. Hopper of Dartmouth, Willie Heston of Michigan, and Richard Smith of Columbia were also on that team.

Here’s a question? Did Carlisle have a first Team All-American before any Big Ten school had one? (Disregard when schools entered and left the Big Ten for this question.)

Common Misconceptions About Carlisle Indian School

January 26, 2009

Google Alerts inform me of “news” on the internet regarding Lone Star Dietz, most of which I ignore. Although the most recent alert was a message largely concerned with Moses Friedman, that blog contains some misconceptions that are probably widely held. Matt is understandably confused by some of the entries on Friedman’s draft card (below) but those inconsistencies aren’t the worst problems. The misconceptions I consider serious are discussed in the paragraphs that follow.

  1. He could pass off the Moses as a given name perhaps, but not Friedman, especially considering that students kept an anglicized version of their Native name.

While it is true that some students were assigned anglicized versions of their original names, my experience researching Carlisle Indian School football players has been that the Anglicized names were generally assigned to an elder in the family, often at the agency in which the family was recorded. By the time Carlisle started fielding a football team in the 1890s, there had been so much intermarriage between Indians and whites that the majority of players I researched carried the family name of a white ancestor. For a small example, I seriously doubt if any of the six Carlisle Indians who were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame carried Anglicized names, bastardized perhaps, as in the case of Guyon. Those names are:

a.     Albert Exendine (may have originally been Oxendine)

b.    Joe Guyon (probably Guion originally)

c.     James Johnson

d.    Ed Rogers

e.    Jim Thorpe

f.      Gus Welch

Had Friedman’s father married an Indian woman, he could easily been named Moses Friedman, although I am unaware of any evidence that indicates that he has Indian heritage. The point is that his name said nothing, one way or the other, about whether he had Indian heritage or not. Another point is that the Anglicized versions that are known for these men, Bright Path (Jim Thorpe) for one, are nothing like the names they were known by at Carlisle.

  1. My initial thoughts were of Lone Star Dietz, but why would he attempt to pass himself off as Indian with such a German sounding name?

As shown by the sample of European names above, by the 1890s a mixed-blood Indian could carry almost any European surname. Germans may have intermarried less than the French, English and Irish, but surely some did. Having the last name of Dietz (or Deitz as his father spelled it), is probably the weakest argument against him.

  1. However, Native-Americans were not exempt from the draft, …

Non-citizen Indians were exempt from the draft, but citizens weren’t. Indians as a group weren’t granted citizenship until after WWI, so most were not required to serve. However, the fact that so many volunteered and served with distinction speaks well for their bravery and patriotism. A significant number even went to Canada to enlist before the U. S. entered the war.

  1. As an aside, even though I have his date of birth I cannot find any Moses Friedman born in America, let alone Cincinatti [sic], on that date or even in 1874!

It was not unusual at all for births not to be recorded at that time. My own paternal grandmother had no birth certificate and she was born over a decade later.

Friedman’s draft registration is surely confusing, most likely because he was confused. As to why he would check the white box for race and also check the citizen box for Indian: my guess is that, knowing people of any race could be citizens or non-citizens, he ignored the Indian heading when he checked the citizen box. I am unaware of any attempt by Friedman to claim Indian heritage.

A look at his then current employment might shed some light as to why he put Carlisle as his permanent address. He was then doing “special work as stockman for NY Supreme Court” in Taos, NM. After resigning from his position as Superintendent of Carlisle Indian School and being acquitted in Federal Court, Friedman was probably taking any work he could get. His work in Taos sounds like it was temporary and Friedman may have had as yet established a permanent location after leaving Carlisle.

http://ciis.blogspot.com/2009/01/moses-friedman-and-lone-star-dietz-both.html

wwidraftcard-friedman

Carlisle Indians Had The Right Stuff

November 27, 2008

These days authors are supposed to have video previews of their books posted on the web for all to see. I was also instructed to make a video of me reading from my new book. Knowing full well that few would want to look at me reading for any period of time, I took a different approach. I read the words Pop Warner said in a 1924 interview in which he told of an episode that clearly shows what kind of stuff the Carlisle Indians were made of. After getting the thing started, I mostly disappear from view and am replaced by other footage and still photographs. Warner’s story is fascinating and, as best I can tell, is true. Because he told it over twenty years after it happened, he may have had some details confused. But the major things check out.

The story is a bit long but, when I’ve read it in book talks, audiences enjoy it because it is such a good story and, to my knowledge, hasn’t been told since the 1920s. YouTube.com enforces a strict time limit on videos that may be posted on their site, so it was necessary to split the story into two pieces. The first, and longer, part has been created and posted. The second and more interesting conclusion will be posted next week. “Carlisle Indians Had The Right Stuff” can be found at www.YouTube.com/TomBenjey. This is a chance to learn more about people such as Albert Exendine, Nikifer Schouchuk, Antonio Lubo, Martin Wheelock, James Johnson, Charles Williams and Richard Henry Pratt.

Feel free to make comments, either positive or negative.