Archive for the ‘Mike Balenti’ Category

Carlisle Indian School Weddings

July 31, 2009

The subject of weddings at Carlisle Indian School recently came up in a conversation with the granddaughter of a Carlisle Indian School student. This subject hasn’t received much attention in the past. Sure, Jim Thorpe’s marriage to Iva Miller was a major national media event in its day, but weddings of non-celebrities or non-celebrities have received little attention since the actual events took place. Let’s take a look at one that might be more representative of student weddings.

Charles Dillon, who is probably best remembered as being the Sioux lineman under whose jersey the pigskin was concealed in the hidden-ball play, was the groom. Rosa LaForge, Crow, was the bride. Because the boys at the school were organized as military cadets, they wore their dress uniforms for the nuptials which were held in the school’s auditorium. The auditorium was full of students and “a large number of invited guests.” The stage was arranged as the alter area of a church, presumably similar to a Presbyterian church because the Rev. Dr. Norcross officiated the Presbyterian ceremony. “The scene already gorgeous beyond description was greatly enhanced by color-sergeant [Nicholas Bowen] taking position with the national and school colors [Mike Balenti] on each side of the stage.”

As the orchestra began playing the Wedding March from Tannhauser, the doors threw open and the bridal party consisting of maid of honor Louise French; bridesmaids Christine Childs, Savannah Beck, Minnie Nick and Annie Goyitney ; and the bride on the arm of Superintendent Major William A. Mercer proceeded up the aisle. “The tall and stately bride was attired in a beautiful white silk gown with a long train. She wore a long veil and carried a gorgeous boquet [sic] of bridal roses. Miss French the maid of honor carried a boquet [sic] of white carnations. Major Mercer appeared in the rich full dress of the army.”

<continued next time>

Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals Now Available

July 21, 2009

I received some great news over the weekend– Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals have shipped and should be available for sale and immediate shipment by mid-week at www.Tuxedo-Press.com and next week from other booksellers. This book is not recommended for people who already have Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs because most of the material in the new book can be found in it. This may not sound like it makes sense, so I’ll explain.

Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs, in my opinion, contains a lot of information that is of interest to young people. However, at 160,000 words, it is inaccessible to youngsters. As an aside, adults tell me they don’t necessarily read it in sequence because its organization allows readers to skip around, reading sections or chapters they find interesting at a particular time and others at other times. Still others use it as a reference book because most of these men’s life stories have been told nowhere else. By splitting this book into a series by state, each volume is short enough that children can read it. A benefit to me is that I was able to include two people who weren’t in Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs: Mike Balenti and Henry Roberts. Perhaps when I finish the series I will make a second edition of Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs that includes all the new people that were added in the series.

Also, Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals is in hardback with a glossy cover, something that should make it an attractive Christmas gift, particularly for children with roots in Oklahoma. If it sounds like I am on a soapbox, it is because I am. Our children and grandchildren should know about these people and much of what has been written about Carlisle Indian School is distorted at best.

Problems with Proofs

July 4, 2009

Proofs for the text and cover of Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals arrived Thursday. The purpose of the proof is to determine that everything is perfect before printing the batch of books. The cover looks great to me. The colors are vibrant and Bob Carroll’s drawings of the players’ faces provides an attractive background for the text on the back cover. There is a problem with the text, however.

Rather than taking up space in the narrative with dry demographic about the players, I put this information in boxes, one for each player. The boxes were shaded in light gray for visual interest. Herein lies the problem. Five of the fifteen demographic data boxes appear to have no shading. The boxes looked perfect in the advance reading copies (ARCs), but those were produced by a different printer. Panic set in immediately. The PDFs sent to the printer look perfect. The printer’s technician informed us that the shading was done at 9% and they accept nothing below 15%. That doesn’t answer the question as to why two-thirds of the boxes were shaded correctly.

As it turns out, the boxes that printed correctly have graphics with transparency on the same page but the bad ones don’t. It appears that the printer’s software or equipment does something different in these cases. Be that as it may, I have to submit new PDFs with 15% gray shading. That means that I will probably have to pay the graphic designer for his time and the printer fees for resubmitting a new PDF and for a new proof. I also have to wait several days to see if this solves the problem.

0977448681

1908 Carlisle-Denver Game Canceled

May 31, 2009

Like most of the interesting things I find, I unexpectedly stumbled across a November 19, 1908 Nebraska State Journal article that said the upcoming game between the Carlisle Indians and the University of Denver had been canceled. Post-season (about anything after Thanksgiving in those days) road trips were not unusual for the Indians. As early as 1896, they played a night game in the Chicago Coliseum on December 19 against that year’s Champions of the West, Wisconsin. And 1908’s trip wasn’t as long or as elaborate as some. It started early with a November 21 game against Minnesota in Minneapolis. Five days later, the opponent was St. Louis University in St. Louis. Six days after that it was Nebraska in Lincoln. Three days after that was to be the Denver game in Denver. According to the article, Denver officials were informed by Carlisle officials that the game was called off because, “…that leave of absence could not be secured for so long a journey.” The article didn’t say if it was Superintendent Friedman, who was new at his post, Commissioner of Indian Affairs Francis Leupp, or someone else. There had been recent communications with Pop Warner and he had said nothing about a cancelation. Denver didn’t take it lying down.

According to the paper, they went straight to the top: “President Roosevelt has been asked to use his influence in having a contract between representatives of Denver University and the Carlisle Indian school for a football game between the elevens of the two schools lived up to.…they at once asked the president through former United States Senator  Patterson, to request that the Indians be given the leave necessary. A portion of Senator Patterson’s message reads: ‘The Denver boys want a square deal and turn to you to get It for them.’ Governor Buchtel, who is chancellor of Denver University, also wired Congressman Bonynge and Senator Teller to secure, if possible, the Intervention of Commissioner of Indian Affairs Leupp.”

I don’t know what happened next but do know that the Indians won three and lost one on the road trip. The loss was to Minnesota. The wins were over St. Louis, Nebraska and Denver.

 

Carlisle Quarterback Mike Balenti

Carlisle Quarterback Mike Balenti

Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals

May 7, 2009

Galleys for Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals, the first book in my upcoming series on Native American Sports Heroes, have arrived. At about 160,000 words, Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs is too long for most middle school and many high school students to read. So, I am splitting it up into a series by state, the first of which is Oklahoma because it has the largest Indian population of any state. It also was home to many of the Carlisle stars. Splitting up the book into smaller volumes has another advantage; it makes room for some more players. Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs got to be so long that I had to stop adding players, but now I have places to tell their stories. For example, Henry Roberts and Mike Balenti  are in Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals but aren’t in Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs.

The new book will be in hardback so that it is attractive to libraries and is under 200 pages long, including the index and appendices. My hope is that school and public libraries across Oklahoma, and elsewhere, add this book to their collections. A book reviewer suggested that grandparents may be interested in giving this book to their grandchildren as gifts. I would like that because my readers to date tend to be over 40. Young people should know about the lives and achievements of Carlisle Indian School students.

Like my other books, Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals is heavily illustrated with rarely seen period photos and cartoons. Bob Carroll of the Professional Football Researchers Association even drew portraits of all the players for the book. This book will be released in September.

09774486812

Indians Dissed by Halls of Fame

May 4, 2009

Last week was a bad week for Indian athletes. Both players and coaches continue to be overlooked for honors they deserve. Lone Star Dietz was passed over again for Induction into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach. He was inducted into the prestigious Helms Foundation years ago but the College Football Hall of Fame didn’t even think he was eligible until a few years ago. It wasn’t until Washington State super-alum Greg Witter and I did some research and got Dietz’s win-loss record corrected that they put his name on the ballot. By then he had been dead for almost 40 years and very few people are still alive that remember him. But he’s not the only Indian the College Football Hall of Fame has dissed or the only Hall of Fame to diss an Indian athlete.

Last week the West Shore Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame inducted its new class. Frank Mt. Pleasant, who I nominated last year, wasn’t picked. It’s hard to imagine how the chapter local to his greatest achievements could overlook one of the greatest of the Carlisle Indians, but they did. Fortunately, the West Shore Chapter isn’t the only option. He was already inducted into the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Hall of Fame for his work there as a coach after his playing days were over. Maybe their chapter will induct him.

Recently, questions have come in about the Haskell Institute star John Levi. He was considered to be as good as Jim Thorpe in every aspect of the game but kicking. Thorpe himself considered Levi to be the best athlete he had ever seen. Unfortunately for John, Carlisle Indian School did not exist when he came of age. The mantle of Indian sports leadership passed to Haskell Institute in Lawrence, KS after Carlisle closed. Although Levi and his Haskell teammates had great records under Coach Richard Hanley, they seldom played in front of the eastern media. That kept John Levi from being named to the major All America teams. He was named to minor ones but that wasn’t enough to get him elected to the Hall of Fame. J

im Thorpe wasn’t the only Indian to lead the nation in scoring (198 points in 1912); John Levi outscored everyone in both 1923 and 1924 (149 and 112 points, respectively). His teammate, Mayes McLain outdid him and everyone else in 1926 with 259 points. Barry Sanders holds the all-time single-season scoring record with 234 points. By my math, he scored 25 fewer points than Mayes McLain. Why doesn’t McLain hold the record?

Legendary coach Charles Moran isn’t in either although he had a great record, including the legendary 1921 defeat of Harvard by his Centre College Praying Colonels. Maybe it’s because he coached Mike Balenti and Victor “Choc” Kelley in his first year at Texas A & M.

Researching the 1909 Aggies

April 29, 2009

I’m writing an article about the 1909 Texas A & M football team for the College Football Historical Society August newsletter and am making some interesting discoveries. Now you may be asking how this article relates to Carlisle Indian School. After being on the Carlisle team in 1908, Victor Kelley (backup quarterback) and Charlie Moran (assistant coach) left for College Station after a year in Carlisle bringing Mike Balenti (starting quarterback) with them. The three led the Aggies to an undefeated season and won the Southwest Championship. The article is the story of that team’s season, but writing it isn’t as easy as it first seemed.

That a fire destroyed many of A & M’s old records is unfortunately not an unusual circumstance that researchers encounter. The library does have a copy of the yearbook – always a good place to get an overview but often not as accurate as one would expect – and a librarian graciously scanned the section on the championship team into a PDF for me. The A & M library has incomplete sets of school and local newspapers on microfilms that aren’t available for inter-library loan, something else that is not uncommon.

Everything I previously read credited Charlie Moran with being the team’s head coach, but the yearbook stated that someone else started the season in that position and quit after the second game, at which time Moran was elevated into the position. The mystery is: why did the first coach quit. CFbDataWarehouse.com listed one more game – a game with Dallas University – that the yearbook didn’t include. One Wiki site listed this game but another listed a game on the same date with the same score with Trinity. David DeLassus of CFbDataWarehouse.com bailed me out. The Aggies beat Holy Trinity College 47-0 on 11-13-1909 at College Station. His source? The 1910 Spalding Football Guide. He also explained that Trinity changed its name to the University of Dallas in 1910.

Membership in the College Football Historical Society is a modest $17.00 a year. Send a check to: Ray Schmidt, PO Box 6460, Ventura, CA 93006 Subscriptions also make great gifts.

cfhs-masthead-cropped

Mystery Auto

March 13, 2009

Mike Balenti’s granddaughter sent me a photo of Mike and four of his Carlisle Indian School teammates in an automobile at Union Station in St. Louis. The photo was on the back of a postcard mailed in late November 1908. Checking the record confirmed that the team was on an extended road trip. The November 20, 1908 edition of The Arrow reported, “Our Varsity team will leave for the west on Wednesday, with our coach and the substitutes, to play with Minnesota University, St. Louis University, Nebraska University, and Denver University.” Newspaper accounts reflect that the Indians lost to Minnesota then won the other three games. This was the last time they played Minnesota. No coverage of the game was printed in The Arrow. All it said was, “We notice by the papers that our first football team lost to Minnesota University last Saturday by the score of 11-6. The news causes a surprise, for it was generally expected here that Minnesota was our easiest team on the western schedule. Judging from the report that our athletic relations with that-team-has been broken, we would infer that our boys failed to get the treatment there they had reason to expect.”

An Associated Press report stated, “Glen S. Warner, athletic director of the Carlisle Indian School tonight gave out a statement denying that, the University of Minnesota has cancelled athletic relations with Carlisle.” This report implies that Minnesota may have had a beef with Carlisle, but we are all too aware of how often newspapers get it wrong. Regardless, the two schools never played again. In fact, that was the last game Carlisle played against a Big Ten team.

Because I am interested in old cars, I tried to figure out the make and model of the car in the photo. It had an unusual hood that sloped downward on the sides and front. I recalled having seen photos of a Renault having a similar hood. On closer inspection, the Renault hood was a little different but I found a couple other French makes that had similar hoods. So, I posted questions on two old car sites, one on either side of the pond. Bozi Mohacek, webmaster of a site in Surrey, England posted a response to my question on the AACA site in Hershey, PA. His posting led to the correct identification. 1937hd45 posted a closeup of a 1903 Thomas Model 18 that looks very much like the car in the photo. Wondering if the car in question could have been of a later vintage, West Peterson informed me that the Thomas used a different engine and hood in 1904. Along the way I learned that a 1907 Thomas Flyer won the Great Race from New York to Paris in 1908, but that’s a story for a different blog.

1903-thomas

Snookered by Wauseka

February 26, 2009

I just found out that, like almost everyone else interested in the Carlisle Indian School, I had been snookered. The trickster is a major figure in American Indian lore and another one has been brought to my attention. I bought the idea that Wauseka was Emil Hauser’s Cheyenne name. Now I learn that he made it up as a joke.

Pete and Emil Hauser were friends of Mike Balenti as was Albert Exendine and they visited him in his home in Oklahoma after all left Carlisle. It was during one of these visits that the joke was shared and Balenti’s son heard it. It turns out that Emil Hauser made up the name on a lark and it stuck. Knowing this raises a lot of questions, the answers for which can only be speculated.

When and where he coined his name is not known, but something is known about a similar action taken by his old teammate Charles Guyon. When Guyon and Hauser were both attending, and playing football for, Haskell Institute, Guyon would play summer baseball in the Midwest. When interviewed by one-too-many a newspaper reporter who couldn’t pronounce his Chippewa name, Charlie gave him the name of the town in which he was playing at the time, Wahoo, Nebraska. When he played at Carlisle he went by both Wahoo and Charles Guyon. In later years he was often referred to as Charlie Wahoo or Chief Wahoo.

Emil Hauser may have taken a page from his old teammate’s book and appropriated a geographic name as his own. A quick search identified towns in Illinois and Wisconsin named Wauseka and a county in Minnesota named Waseca. The truth probably won’t ever be known but this is a plausible explanation, particularly because a friend of his had previously done something similar.

Carlisle Players Play Each Other

January 19, 2009

While researching the lives of Henry Roberts and Mike Balenti, I became aware that they, and some other Carlislians played against each other when enrolled in other schools. In response to criticism that Carlisle Indian School had been playing some of the same people for too many years, Pop Warner instituted a policy that limited players to four years on the varsity squad. Mike Balenti had used up his eligibility at Carlisle and Victor Kelley had one year of eligibility remaining at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. While there were no national eligibility standards, many colleges limited students to four years of eligibility, one for each of their four years of college – assuming that they finished on time. However, colleges often conveniently ignored the time former Carlisle players now at their institutions had played at the Indian school because it wasn’t a college academically. In fact, it wasn’t even a prep school. Putting these vaguaries of eligibility aside, Mike Balenti and Victor Kelley enrolled at A&M (reenrolled in Kelley’s case) to play under new head coach Charlie Moran. Moran, coincidentally, had assisted Pop Warner at Carlisle the previous year before embarking on a career as football coach. Previously, he had been a star player and a baseball coach, but hadn’t coached football. The Aggies, with Kelley at quarterback and Balenti at left halfback, had a powerhouse team. One of the obstacles in their path to the unofficial Southwestern Championship was Haskell Institute. The teams met on October 23 at College Station. Captain and left end of the Haskell squad was Henry Roberts who would later star of Carlisle’s great 1911 team. Not on the field that day for Haskell, but on the squad, were center Nikifer Schouchuk and quarterback Louis Island. It was like old home week at the game which the Aggies won 15-0. Aggie students celebrated wildly after the game because beating the team that had beaten the University of Texas meant a lot to them. At the end of the season Charlie Moran, as coach of the Southwestern Championship team, was given the honor of selecting an All Southwest team. He named Kelley for quarterback, Balenti for left halfback, and Roberts for punter. Carlisle was well represented on that team by alums both past and future.