Posts Tagged ‘1912 Olympics’

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

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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/

1912 Pentathlon Part 2

May 17, 2012

Jim Thorpe won the 1500 meter run, the last event of the pentathlon, with a time of 4 minutes 44.8 seconds. Avery Brundage did not finish but was awarded seven points, comparable to a last place finish. Whether he started and did not finish or just didn’t bother to run at all is unclear. Ironically, Thorpe could have finished dead last in the 1500 meters and still won the pentathlon but he probably never considered loafing to save his energy for the decathlon. Brundage finished in sixth place overall, ahead of Hugo Wieslander, who finished fourth in the 1500 meters. The best Brundage could hope for if he came in first, second or third was a bronze medal because, even if he finished dead last, Ferdinand Bie of Norway would have had only 22 points overall as he had only 15 points coming into the 1500 meters where Brundage already had 24. A first place finish would have given Brundage 25. A fourth place finish would have given him 28 points, still good enough for a bronze because James Donahue and Frank Lukeman both finished with 29 points in a tie for third place. The tie was broken by recalculating their results using the method used for the decathlon with the result that Donahue was awarded the bronze medal

According to Wikipedia, Brundage chose not to compete in the final event of the decathlon, again the 1500 meter run, and later regretted the decision. It may be that he also chose not to run the 1500 meters in the pentathlon as well. Perhaps his biographer, Allen Guttman, can shed some light on this but it has been decades since he wrote about Brundage and he may have forgotten the details.

Something that is clearer now is that the Brundage who came in second to Frank Cayou in a track meet held at the University of Illinois on April 28, 1900 probably was Avery. Although still in high school in Chicago, his times were already good enough to compete with college boys.

1912 Olympics Pentathlon

May 15, 2012

Six days before beginning the decathlon competition, Jim Thorpe won the Men’s Pentathlon (not to be confused with the Modern Pentathlon which will be discussed later). Unlike the decathlon, all five pentathlon events were held on the same day, July 7, 1912. The first event was the long jump which Jim Thorpe won with a jump of 7.07 meters. Average Brundage’s 6.83 meter jump was good enough for fourth place. Next up was the javelin which was won by Hugo Wieslander of Sweden with a throw of 49.56 meters. Thorpe’s 46.71 was good enough for third place while Brundage’s 42.85 was ninth. The third event was the 200-meter run which Thorpe won with a time of 22.9 seconds. Brundage came in 15th.

After three events were completed, only the top twelve were allowed to continue; the rest were eliminated. It isn’t clear to me if the rules called for only the top twelve to continue or if those with composite scores higher than 25 were eliminated. Either scheme arrives at the same place in this case. Jim Thorpe was the overall leaders at this point with two firsts and a third place finish for five points total (1+3+1). Avery Brundage’s 22 points (4+7+11) kept him in the game tied for seventh place.

Only the top six competitors were allowed to continue after the fourth event, the discus. Jim Thorpe won that one too with a throw of 35.57 meters. The discus throw must have been Avery Brundage’s best event because he placed second in it. When overall scores were recalculated to determine who made the cut, Thorpe was, of course, well ahead in first place at six points. Surprisingly, Brundage was tied for third with 22 points. Because two men tied for sixth place, seven were allowed to compete in the last event.

 <continued next time>

 

100th Anniversary of 1912 Olympics

May 10, 2012

This year is the 100th anniversary of the 1912 Olympic Games that were held in Stockholm, Sweden.  What makes that important to us is the participation of two Carlisle Indians: Jim Thorpe and Lewis Tewanima.  Writers across the country and even from England are working on articles about these games and the two men who starred in those games.  The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, DC is even opening an exhibit concerning American Indians’ participation in the Olympics on May 24.  As a result, experts such as Bob Wheeler are being interviewed by various reporters and other writers.  Even I am being asked to verify details.

The other day, I got a phone call from someone about a detail about which I had never given any thought: exactly when was the decathlon competed in the 1912 Olympics?  Fortunately, with the use of the Internet, the answer could readily be found.  The 1912 Decathlon was competed over three days.  On the first day, July 13, the 100 meters, long jump, and shot put were held.  The second day, July 14, hosted four events: 400 meters, high jump, discus throw, and 110 meter hurdles.  On the third day, July 15, were the pole vault, javelin throw, and 1,500 meters.

Something that I find interesting is that Jim Thorpe tied for third in the pole vault, an event for which his physique was not well suited.  Pole vaulters tend to be wiry, something that Thorpe wasn’t.  Yes, he had tremendous upper body strength, but that was offset by his overall body mass as muscle is heavy.  His great leg strength and running speed probably made up for his weight as he cleared 3.25 meters (10 feet 7.95 inches) in those pre-fiberglass pole days.

The decathlon was a battle of endurance as much as anything.  Of the 29 athletes who started the event on the first day, only 12 finished all 10 events. Among the non-finishers was Avery Brundage.  After finishing 10th in the pole vault, Brundage dropped out without competing in the javelin or 1,500 meters.  Even at that, he is listed as placing 16th in the decathlon.

 

Amateurism in the 1912 Olympics

July 13, 2010

As part of the run up for her book, Kate Buford wrote an article for The Gilder Kehrman Institute of American History that is posted on its History Now web site. “Amateurism and Jim Thorpe at the Fifth Olympiad” includes the following statements:

A French baron, Pierre Frédy de Coubertin, founded the modern Olympic movement in part as a way to inject the authentic ancient Greek ideal of a sound mind in a sound body into modern nations in danger, he believed, of becoming physically unfit and thus morally soft. By 1912, for the Fifth modern Olympiad in Stockholm, each competitor had to sign an entry form affirming that he or she was an amateur—“one who has never” competed for money or prize, competed against a professional, taught in any branch of athletics for payment (i.e., been a coach) or “sold, pawned, hired out, or exhibited for payment” any prize.

After reading this, I conclude that very few American athletes would have been considered to be amateurs by these standards. Never having competed for money or prize would have eliminated most of them. Winners of events at major track meets were often awarded prizes in those days. Gold watches were one of the more common prizes. Silver loving cups were probably more common, and medals were likely the most common prize. Gold watches, silver cups and medals sound like things of value to me.

If memory serves (my research sources aren’t available to me right now), the Penn Relay Carnival awarded prizes to winning relay teams. Also, I think there is a famous photograph of the great distance runner from Carlisle Indian School, Lewis Tewanima, standing next to a table loaded with prizes he won in races. No complaints were filed about his, or other athletes’, having competed for such prizes.

Jim Thorpe 1912 Olympics Postcard

May 24, 2010

A postcard that Jim Thorpe sent to a childhood friend from the 1912 Stockholm Olympics is being offered for sale. Front and back views of the postcard are provided below.

Luther Hood, recipient of the card, was an Absentee Shawnee and a good friend of the Thorpe family. The families continue a strong friendship today. In tribal culture when a relative dies the family adopts someone to take that person’s place. It seems that Luther may have been an adopted brother to Jim Thorpe, who lost several very close family members, including his twin brother, when he was young. That is why he would have used the terms “Bud” and “Bro.”

The stamp on the card is from Sweden. Closer inspection is required to determine the postmark. The U. S. Olympic team, other than the distance runners and Thorpe, used the ship they traveled over on, the SS Finland, as their hotel during the Olympics. Perhaps the postcard was sent from the Finland.

Bob Wheeler is assisting the owner of what is surely an expensive item in selling it. If you are interested, contact Bob at bobwheelerwrc@aol.com

 

More Native Americans in 1912 Olympics

August 25, 2008

 

I previously overlooked a Native American who competed in the 1912 Olympics because he was not an American Indian. Duke Kahanamoku (real name Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku) of Hawaii was, not surprisingly, America’s best swimmer. Also not surprising is that the AAU did not recognize his records until much later. They initially claimed that the judges must have been using alarm clocks rather than stopwatches, and later conjectured that he had been aided by ocean currents. Fortunately, the AAU did not operate the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games.

 

In the Olympic trials, Duke broke the 200-meter freestyle record when swimming his leg in a heat for the 4×200 relay. At Stockholm, he won the gold medal for the 100-meter freestyle and silver as a member of the relay team. The 1916 Berlin Games were postponed until 1936 due to the outbreak of World War I. Antwerp, Belgium was awarded the honor of hosting the 1920 games because of the devastation Belgium experienced in The Great War. Duke crossed the Atlantic to compete again. This time he brought home two golds; one for the 100-meter freestyle and one for the relay. Fellow Hawaiian Pua Kele Kealoha came in second to Duke in the 100-meter freestyle and was a member of the gold-medal-winning relay team. Warren Paola Kealoha, Pua’s brother,  won the gold in the 100-meter backstroke and repeated the feat in the 1924 games.

 

Duke crossed the Atlantic yet again in 1924 for the Paris Games where he came in second in the 100-meter freestyle, losing to Windber, PA’s own future Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller. His younger brother, Samuel Kahanamoku, took home the bronze medal.Duke did not medal in the 1928 games but participated in the Olympics again in 1932, this time as an alternate on the bronze-medal-winning water polo team.

 

But swimming was just a means to an end for Kahanamoku – to his surfboard, that is. Growing up on the outskirts of Waikiki (near the present site of the Hilton Hawaiian Village), it was natural that Duke would take up surfing, but how he became the father of surfing is a story for another time.

 

 

Duke with short board

Duke with short board

 

 

 

 

1912 Olympics – Part V

August 14, 2008

The team held an exhibition meet on June 13 in New York City at which Thorpe and Tewanima stood out. The diminutive Hopi outran the country’s two best middle-distance men in the 3,500 meters and Jim Thorpe outjumped the world record holder in the high jump by clearing 6’5”. After the event was over, the record holder also cleared 6’5”. The 1912 U.S. Olympic team set sail for Stockholm on a Red Star liner, The Finland, arriving on June 30 to a hearty reception.

 

In the first day’s events, Jim Thorpe won the pentathlon (Avery Brundage tied for third) and qualified for the high jump finals. Lt. George S. Patton finished 5th in the Modern Pentathlon, an entirely different event designed specifically for military officers. Lewis Tewanima qualified for the finals of the 1,500 meter run. Later that day he placed second and won the silver medal. Tewanima was also entered in the marathon.

 

Andrew Sockalexis described the conditions for the marathon as, “…the worst I ever saw. The roads were very poor. A thick mud, the color of cement, covered them, and out of this protruded small sized rocks, which made the running anything but comfortable….The morning was cool enough, but how the sun did come out getting near noontime. I think the temperature was between 90 and 95 degreees.” He went on to say that he had never found it so warm in America.

 

The conditions may have affected the little Hopi as he finished a disappointing 16th. Andrew Sockalexis finished 4th but later kicked himself for losing the race for “failing to use my head at the proper time cost me first place in the great race.” His mistake came at the halfway point of the race when he observed that the two leaders, South Africans McArthur and Gitsham, were clinging tight to each other and that McArthur was frothing at the mouth. Sockalexis planned on starting his spurt when McArthur dropped out of the race. He never did and won the race in record time.

 

Jim Thorpe did not medal in the high jump due to failing to clear the bar when raised to 189 centimeters, a height he had cleared earlier in the year.  He finished tied for 4th in an event in which six of the top seven finishers were American.

 

In the decathlon, Jim placed 3rd in the 100-meter dash at 11.2 seconds, 3rd in the broad jump at 6.79 meters, 1st in the shotput at 12.89 meters, 1st in the high jump at 1.87 meters, 4th in the 400-meter dash at 52.2 seconds, 3rd in the discus throw at 36.98 meters, 1st in the 110-meter hurdles at 15.6 seconds, tied for 3rd in the pole vault at 3.25 meters, 4th in the javelin throw at 45.70 meters, and 1st in the 1500-meter run at 4minutes, 40.1 seconds. Avery Brundage finished 16th.

 

Thorpe’s 1912 Olympic performance is the stuff of legends, even at the time. At the medal ceremony, King Gustav V said, “You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.” To which Thorpe famously replied, “Thanks, King.”

 

Jim Thorpe receiving Olympic gold medal from King Gustav V of Sweden

Jim Thorpe receiving Olympic gold medal from King Gustav V of Sweden

1912 Olympics – Part III

August 7, 2008

The press was filled with articles about Carlisle’s expected participation in the upcoming games. Various track meets, competitions and races winnowed the field down to those who would eventually participate.

 

The Boston Marathon, which was run on April 20, was used to select the U.S. long distance team. Prior to the race Pop Warner thought that Mitchell Arquette, St. Regis Mohawk, would do even better than Tewanima. However, Michael J. Ryan, of the Irish American A.C. unexpectedly won the race and in world-record time. Andrew Sockalexis, Penobscot from Maine and not enrolled at Carlisle, came in second in conditions so muddy that runners had to run on sidewalks to get decent footing. After the conclusion of the race, the U.S. Olympic marathon team was set: Ryan and Sockalexis were selected as was Lewis Tewanima, the only Carlisle distance runner on the 1912 U.S. Olympic team. Apparently, the other Carlisle distance men didn’t do well enough in spring meets to qualify.

 

Jim Thorpe had a good spring. He was running so well that Warner was quoted as saying , “the man who beats him in the 120 yard [hurdle] event at the Pennsylvania relay meet will have to stagger the world’s record.” In May Thorpe competed in a tryout for the Olympic Pentathlon, a new event that consisted of five track and field competitions: 1) Running broad jump, 2) javelin throw with best hand, 3) 200-meters flat race, 4) discus throw with best hand, and 5) 1,500-meters flat race. He had not thrown the javelin previously but was expected to pick that up quickly. Also new to him was the 1,500-meters run in which his stamina was expected to carry him. Thorpe easily qualified for the Olympic team by winning three events: broad jump, discus and 200-meter run. He placed second in the other two, losing to the national champion in the javelin and finishing two yards behind the leader in the 1,500-meters. His prospects for a successful Olympics were good. Also named to the U.S. team to compete against Thorpoe in the pentathlon and decathlon was Avery Brundage.

 

 

 

 

 

Tewanima wins race & Arquette comes in 5th

Tewanima wins race & Arquette comes in 5th