Posts Tagged ‘City Island’

The Tebow Thorpe Intersection

July 30, 2018

Earlier this summer you read about my ill-fated attempt to see Tim Tebow play minor league baseball against the Harrisburg Senators at City Island. Since that time, I’ve thought about who else played at that island in the Susquehanna River over a century ago.

Called Hargest’s Island in 1902, a crude baseball field there was home turf for Harrisburg Athletic Club for whom Carlisle Indian School grad and Dickinson College student Charles Albert Bender pitched one summer. The future hall-of-famer even hurled a game against the visiting Chicago Cubs. Chief Bender lost but acquitted himself well. So well, that by season’s end he had been signed by Connie Mack to pitch for the Philadelphia Athletics. The rest, as they say, is history.

Baseball wasn’t the only sport in which Carlisle Indians competed on Hargest’s Island. In 1908, 8,000 people attended the first annual statewide track and field meet sponsored by the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The Carlisle Indians defeated ten colleges to take first place honors. Several Carlisle athletes performed well. Among them was Jim Thorpe, rounding out his first season of competition. He came in second in the 220-yard hurdles and 16-pound shotput, and first in the high jump. Not bad for someone new to the sport.

Jim Thorpe on Hargest's Island

Jim Thorpe runs the high hurdles in the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Meet on Hargest’s Island

The 1912 event was the source of an often-heard legend about the Carlisle Indians. Their team did not run 20 miles to a game, defeat their opponents and run home. Lewis Tewanima and Jim Thorpe were training for the Olympic Games to be held in Stockholm that year and did not compete as members of the team. As part of his training regime, distance running Hopi Tewanima ran from Carlisle to Hargest’s Island, waved to his friends, circled the track, and ran back to Carlisle.

Jim Thorpe returned in 1915 to compete there as a member of the Harrisburg Islanders minor league baseball team. A parallel of Thorpe and Tebow is that that both competed on City Island in baseball, not either’s first sport. Both camein to prominence for their exploits in college football. Tebow was a Heisman Trophy winner and Thorpe would have been had that award existed in 1911 and 1912. His prominent position in the College Football Hall of Fame attests to that.

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My Evening with Tim Tebow

June 7, 2018

Upon hearing that Tim Tebow had been assigned to play for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies AA minor league team, I thought there was a chance he would come to Harrisburg to play against the Senators. Looking up the Senators’ schedule told me they would be coming to town June 5-7. Wanting to attend the game, I contacted a friend, the local undertaker and lifelong Phillies fan who frequently goes to Senators’ games to see if he would want to see Tebow. He was most definitely up for it, but which game should we go see?

I ruled out June 7 because it was a day game and I didn’t want to fry in the hot sun in the bleachers. We picked the evening of the 6th for reasons lost to memory. When thunderstorms were forecast—and experienced—we patted ourselves on the back for having made a wise decision.

However, the game was played and Tebow went one for four with an RBI single, a run scored and a put out at third base with a good throw from his position in left field. Not a record day by any means but a respectable performance. Word has it that he happily signed autographs before the game.

Wednesday the 6th started overcast, with a spritz of rain in the morning, but cleared in the afternoon suggesting a clear coolish evening, a great night to watch a baseball game. We started early to have time to eat at the ballpark before the start of the 6:30 game. On the way to pick up our friends, we saw that traffic on I-81 North (the direction to Harrisburg) was backed up for miles. Seeing that taking an alternate route was necessary, we took back roads and found that a tractor-trailer accident (an all-too-frequent occurrence on I-81) blocked traffic just before the Miracle Mile interchange. We zipped over to the Miracle Mile and got on the interstate, finally making good time with the light traffic. Things went well until the last mile.

The Senators play on an island in the middle of the Susquehanna, with bridges bringing in traffic from both sides of the river. Traffic was backed up for a good half mile before the bridge and another half mile on it. We watched clock as we inched forward to the parking lot entrance. We arrived there with just enough time to park and walk to our seats before the game started.

We were shocked to see an attendant holding a parking lot full sign. He handed us a map to a parking garage a good mile away off the island in the city of Harrisburg. My friend was unable to walk such a distance, so I drove around city streets seeking a close enough place to park but found none. His wife spotted a good restaurant and suggested that we eat there. We did.

After a leisurely meal—kitchen staff appeared to take a break while preparing our orders—we got back in the car to head home. My friend suggested we try to find the broadcast of the game on the radio. A not long search across the AM band landed on what was clearly a baseball game and the announcer was certainly not ready for the big leagues. Eventually, he mentioned the Senators, so we knew we had the right game.

As we drove, we heard the last part of the home half of the 7th inning. Binghamton led 1-0. In the top of the 8th, with Rumble Ponies on 2nd and 3rd, the Binghamton pitcher came up the bat. Tim Tebow was announced as a pinch hitter. We felt a lot better because we had missed little of what we wanted to see because he wasn’t in the game until that point. With 1st base open, the pitcher probably didn’t risk giving him anything good to hit. After three fouls on a 3-2 count the pitcher walked him. The next batter up hit an RBI single, moving Tebow to 2nd base. A later play moved him to 3rd. When the Binghamton left fielder hit a fly ball to the warning track, Tebow raced home.

We waited to see if he was part of a double switch and would remain in the game. He wasn’t.

So, instead of sitting in our seats grumbling for 8 innings because Tebow wasn’t in the game, we enjoyed a nice meal and a happier drive home.

City Island parking

1912 Olympics – Part IV

August 11, 2008

Thorpe received a lot of hype, even before dominating the Pentathlon tryouts. One such example is shown below. As coach of the Carlisle track team, Pop Warner placed himself in charge of Thorpe’s and Tewanima’s training for the Olympics. As part of their training regime he had them sit out most of the school’s spring meets. So, for the first time in several years, a team other than Carlisle won the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s track meet held on Hargest’s Island (today’s City Island) at Harrisburg. Thorpe did not attend the meet but Tewanima made an appearance. He ran 18 miles from the Indian School to Hargest’s Island, arrived at the field when the 2-mile run was underway. According to the report in The Carlisle Arrow, “he circled the field amid the cheers and applause of’ nearly everyone on theground. Tewanima made the eighteen-mile run in a little less than one hour and fifty minutes and seemed fresh at the finish and able go many more miles.”

 

Thorpe’s absence gave others an opportunity to shine. Bruce Goesback placed 1st in the 220 hurdles, 3rd in the 120 hurdles, 4th in broad jump and high jump. Possum Powell finished 2nd in both high jump and shot put. John Squirrel was 3rd in both 440-yd dash and broad jump. Sampson Bird came in 2nd in the hammer throw and 4th in discus. Gus Welch place 2nd in the half-mile and won the 440-yd dash but was disqualified of “alleged interference” with another runner. Arthur Coons placed 3rd in pole vault, Joel Wheelock came in 4th in both hurdle events, and Blackdeer, the only distance man to score points, came in 4th in the 2-mile run.

 

Carlisle still placed second to Penn State without its Olympians and beat all other colleges in the meet.

Jim Thorpe's Physique

Jim Thorpe's Physique