Archive for the ‘Oorang’ Category

What Color Were Oorang Indians’ Uniforms

April 6, 2020

1923 Team photoFor years I’ve wondered what the Oorang Indians’ uniforms looked like, having only seen black and white photos of them. For those who aren’t familiar with the Oorang Indians, they were an early NFL team formed by Jim Thorpe and Walter Lingo, owner and operator of the Oorang Airedale mail-order kennel. A complete history of the team can be found in Walter Lingo, Jim Thorpe, and the Oorang Indians by Chris Willis. A much shorter version is included in my book Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs.

I had heard the team’s colors were maroon and orange but found nothing to confirm that. The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio had neither a jersey nor a color photo in its collection. So, the question of what the Oorang uniforms looked like has remained a mystery to me.

Out of the blue last week, Channel Parrish sent me a photo of the 1923 team that the person who goes by djabamowin had colorized. The artist made the uniforms maroon and gold, with the cut outs on the jerseys in gold matching the pants. This was an attractive combination reminiscent of Carlisle Indian School’s colors: red and old gold.

Colorized photo

However, Willis’s book lists the colors as “predominately maroon, with the logo in the middle a dark orange, with the same color on the side and inner arm of the jersey. The canvas pants were brown.” This squares more closely with what I had previously heard but I have no physical evidence either way.

Sherman Pierce in Oorang uniformA black & white closeup of a player sheds a little light on this question. Where the colorized photo has the same color on the sides of the jersey as on the pants but in the black & white photo, it is clear the sides of the jerseys are darker than the pants. My guess would be that the jerseys are a different color than the pants, possibly orange. Although Spalding’s list their PTP style of pants as being brown in color. Photos I’ve seen tend to be tan (a lighter shade of brown) or gold (special orders were accepted). Since the pants in the Oorang photos aren’t shiny, I’d guess they are tan.

It would be wonderful if an old Oorang uniform surfaced so we’d know, but I’m not holding my breath until it happens.

 

 

 

Renewed Interest in the Oorang Indians

September 23, 2017

Oorang Indians Willis.jpg

Yesterday’s mail brought an unexpected pleasure. I opened a package that obviously contained a book. But I had no memory of ordering a book from anyone. The label said it was from Rowman & Littlefield in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania. I knew some book publishers made their home in that town as the late John Kallmann had once worked for a publisher located there. I still had no idea what book it might be.

Opening the package, I found a copy of Walter Lingo, Jim Thorpe, and the Oorang Indians: How a Dog Kennel Owner Created the NFL’s Most Famous Traveling Team by Chris Willis. It was a book I knew was coming out because Chris and I had conversed about the topic and a question he had about Eagle Feather led to some serious investigation and a series of blog posts about this mysterious player.

Wanting to thank him for the book, I tried to send Chris an email, but couldn’t find his address. An inopportune computer crash in early August had wreaked havoc had lost numerous email messages and addresses. (Perhaps I should write about the fallacies of making backups using Microsoft’s utility.) I would appreciate it if someone would send me his email address.

The book had a feel different from others I’d felt. That it had no jacket because the jacket information was printed directly on the hard cover wasn’t new. What was new was the feel of it. Rather than having a hard, glossy finish, the cover had a matt finish that is soft to the touch.

Inside this beautiful book, I found an acknowledgement to me. An entire paragraph. WOW! Thank you, Chris.

Over the last couple of years, I had received questions from multiple persons about the Oorang Indians. Apparently, this most unusual NFL team had gathered renewed interest. Maybe the NFL needs to rejuvenate the team to attract fans. It needs to do something after tickets for Thursday’s Rams-49ers game went for $15!