Posts Tagged ‘George Preston Marshall’

More Misinformation About Redskins Name

March 16, 2015

On May 29, 2014, George Washington University Professor of Public Interest Law John F. Banzhaf III issued a press release titled “Defense of ‘Redskins’ Name Shattered—Pressure to Now Change ‘Racist’ Name Grows.” Banzhaf based his position on a quote from team owner George Preston Marshall in an Associated Press article printed in the Hartford Courant on July 6, 1933 (see below): “The fact that we have in our head coach, Lone Star Dietz, an Indian, together with several Indian players, has not, as may be suspected, inspired me to select the name Redskins.” The anti-Redskins activist media almost immediately published articles based on this press release.

Neither Banzhaf nor the media considered an article published the same day in the team’s hometown paper (see below) that contradicts the AP piece. In it, Marshall is attributed as saying “…the change was made to avoid confusion with the Braves baseball team and that the team is to be coached by an Indian, Lone Star Dietz, with several Indian players.” Could the AP or The Boston Herald get it wrong or did he say different things to different reporters? With Marshall anything is possible.

Banzhaf says nothing about Marshall’s primary reason for changing the team’s name as stated in both articles: confusion with the Boston Braves baseball team. On the surface, this reason is, to use a technical term, hogwash. NFL teams routinely capitalized on the name recognition of baseball teams in those ragtag years. The Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, Brooklyn Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, and Washington Senators football teams were all named after the baseball teams in their cities. The Giants still use the name decades after the baseball team abandoned New York for San Francisco. Marshall had done that in 1932 when he named his team the Boston Braves but something was changing.

Marshall was surely negotiating a move to Fenway Park at that time because, two weeks later, he announced the team’s relocation. Changing the team’s name was likely necessary to avoid legal problems with the baseball team’s and Braves Field’s owners.

Something else Banzhaf doesn’t mention is the September 27, 1987 Washington Post op-ed piece in which Marshall’s granddaughter wrote, “Fact is, he chose the name because he had always been an admirer of the American Indian and because one of the team’s coaches, ‘Lone Star’ Dietz, was himself an American Indian.” That Marshall had a fascination with Indians is well known as is his later statement that Dietz was the smartest coach he ever had.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, especially when in the mind of an academic on a crusade.

1933-07-06 Redskins Hartford Courant

1933-07-06 Redskins renamed

 

 

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Lone Star Dietz Designed Redskins’ Uniforms

January 8, 2014

A little bit of research made crystal clear that The Boston Globe writer hadn’t bothered to research the 1932-1933 Braves-Redskins uniform issue at all when he wrote, “It appears the name change was nothing other than a cheap, pragmatic way for the Redskins to play under a new name at a new venue with uniforms that were but a year old.”

The Boston Herald coverage for the 1933 Redskins first home game announced, “Furthermore, they have a new coach, Lone Star Dietz; have new uniforms and some new players.” Grainy black and white period newspaper photos don’t show off the new uniforms very well, so football trading cards will have to suffice. Turk Edwards’ card shows the front pretty well where Cliff Battles gives a side view. The colors are similar to those of Carlisle Indian School, which were red and old gold. A multi-color Indian head adorns the front of the jersey and stripes are placed at the wrists. (Carlisle’s stripes were just below the elbow.) Now that we know what the Redskins wore in 1933 and later, let’s find out what the Braves wore in 1932.

The September 19, 1932 edition of The Boston Herald reported that the Braves didn’t look like a well-polished professional team when they easily defeated the Quincy Trojans in a practice game at Fore River Field on September 18, 1932. One reason was the long off-season lay-off. The other was sartorial. Because their new uniforms hadn’t arrived, they wore plain blue jerseys without numbers. Fortunately, their dark blue jerseys with gold numerals arrived before their first home game. Although the black and white photos that accompany the article aren’t in color, they clearly show numerals on the front of the 1932 jerseys in the place where the Indian heads appear in 1933. This is further evidence, again easily found, that George Preston Marshall didn’t select Redskins for the team name as an economy move.

This uniform information brought to mind something that came up when researching Lone Star Dietz’s life. A Lafayette, Louisiana attorney I interviewed had represented the One Star family pro bono some years earlier in an attempt to receive compensation from a previous owner for the artwork Dietz created for the team in 1933. The statute of limitations had expired decades earlier so the family got nothing. Unable to find physical evidence that Dietz had designed the uniforms, such as sketches he had made, I didn’t include the topic in his biography. Now, I think it’s quite likely that Lone Star designed the 1933 Redskins uniforms. The team name changed months after he was hired. The Redskins’ new colors were similar to Carlisle’s. Dietz clearly had the artistic ability to design the Indian head for the jerseys. He had a long history of making art for teams and schools and participating in artistic endeavors seldom done by football coaches. And it wouldn’t have cost Marshall anything.

1932 Boston Braves

1932 Boston Braves

Cliff Battles chicklet Turk Edwards national chicle card

Lone Star Dietz Dissed Again, This Time by The Boston Globe

January 1, 2014

***Update January 14, 2014*** Joseph Sullivan, Assistant Managing Editor and Sports Editor for The Boston Globe, responded to my request that The Globe correct at least some of the numerous errors in its December 29, 2013 article, writing, “None of your points warrant a correction. It’s time to move on.”  This is further evidence of why newspapers, such as The Boston Globe, are in such sad shape today.

Ninety-eight years ago today, Lone Star Dietz was toasted by football fans across the country after defeating Brown University on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California. This great victory in an historic game not only established the Rose Bowl and all the others that followed but put long inferior West Coast football on an even footing with the East Coast powers. In recent years, media activists bent on changing the Redskins’ name have found it convenient to assassinate Dietz’s character. Many thought Lone Star’s long awaited and much deserved 2012 induction into the College Football Hall of Fame would end this disrespectful treatment.
Instead, their hatred appears to have intensified based on the scurrilous opinion piece—the article is so riddled with errors and half truths it can’t be considered news—by The Boston Globe staff writer Kevin Paul Dupont for the December 29 edition.
http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/12/29/redskins-wonder-what-name-the-answer-traces-back-boston/GmfYbPTnHx1Ht5NgqN1EOM/story.html
To some extent, Lone Star is collateral damage because George Preston Marshall is activists’ primary target. However, they apparently think it’s necessary to smear Dietz in order to get Marshall. Their strategy has been, and still is, to destroy Marshall’s claim that the team was named in honor of its coach and (four) players who followed Dietz from the government Indian school at Lawrence, Kansas to Beantown. Simply put: assassinate Dietz’s character, eliminate Marshall’s premise, and forget the Indian players.
Much of this latest smear takes a different tack from earlier ones by posing the point that it was less expensive for Marshall to change the team’s moniker to Redskins than to some other non-Indian-related name. Central to Dupont’s argument is a point he made no less than four times in that piece: Marshall was sitting on a pile of perfectly good uniforms and saved a bundle by continuing to use them. The major problem with this, apparently unresearched, argument is that Marshall bought a whole new set of jerseys for his 1933 team!

<to be continued>

Redskins Named in Dietz’s Honor

May 6, 2013

Professor Joseph Gordon Hylton posed some opinions and asked a question with regard to the naming of the Redskins NFL team yesterday. He stated that George Preston Marshall, owner of the Boston NFL franchise, had a life-long fascination with Indians. That is believable because another NFL owner, Walter Lingo, believed there existed a mystical connection between Indians and the Airedales he raised and sold. His team was formed a decade before Marshall’s and was named the Oorang Indians. Now to Dr. Hylton’s question:

“Has anyone pinpointed the day that the name change was announced?”

I previously located letterhead for the Boston Braves that listed Lone Star Dietz as the head coach (see p. 278 of Keep A-goin’: the life of Lone Star Dietz) but hadn’t tried to pinpoint the exact date of the name change. A little research turned up the date Dietz was named head coach in a March 8, 1933 issue of The Boston Herald. The team was referred to as the Redskins on the sports page by the end of August, so it had to renamed before that. A little more research located the announcement of the team’s name change. The July 6, 1933 issue of The Boston Herald included a short article titled Braves Pro Gridmen to be Called Redskins (see below). This article establishes the fact that the Redskins were renamed well after Dietz’s hiring and includes the team’s published reason, “…the change was made to avoid confusion with the Braves baseball team and that the team is to be coached by an Indian, Lone Star Dietz, with several Indian players.”

This article supports the contention made by George Preston Marshall’s granddaughter several decades later.

1933-07-06 Redskins renamed

Origin of Redskins Team Name

March 22, 2011

Every so often, either in a newspaper article or on a football forum, questions about the origin of the Redskins team name emerge. This time the question was raised on a www.extremeskins.com forum. Although it is repetitive to answer the same question periodically, it is probably necessary. A person interested in clarifying the issue asked me for a quote. It follows:

“Lone Star Dietz was hired to be head coach of the Boston Braves after the 1932 season. Sometime after his hiring, the team moved to Fenway Park necessitating a name change. I have seen Boston Braves stationery with Dietz’s name on it. That shows that he was hired before the name change. George Preston Marshall’s granddaughter wrote an op-ed to the “Washington Post” some years ago in which she stated that Marshall renamed the team in honor of Dietz (and, possibly, of the four Haskell players Dietz brought with him). Dietz coached the Boston Redskins in 1933 and 1934. This is all spelled out in my biography of Dietz.”

Some on the forum thought that the name change was influenced by the name of the baseball team that played in the Redskins new home of Fenway Park, the Red Sox. It may have. After all, Marshall could have named his team the Indians or something else in honor of Dietz. The Red in Red Sox may even have guided him toward Redskins without him realizing it.

Some sources state that the team name change occurred before Dietz’s hiring but I have evidence that contradicts that: Braves letterhead with Dietz’s name on it. It is highly unlikely that Marshall would have authorized the printing of letterhead with the wrong team name on it or with a name that he intended to change in the near future. That would have been wasting money, something that George Preston Marshall didn’t make a habit of doing. The masthead of that letterhead follows:

More Misinformation from a Journalist

May 17, 2010

While wrangling grandchildren in Bethesda, MD this weekend, my wife took the impressionable young minds into a bookstore. 12-year-old Joey, a bookie if there ever was one, picked up a copy of The Redskins Encyclopedia by Michael Richman. When he showed it to my wife, she immediately noticed several errors in a paragraph that deals with Lone Star Dietz. The offending paragraph can be found on page 3:

The hands-on Marshall fired Wray, too, and replaced him with William “Lone Star” Dietz, a part-blood Native American. Dietz recruited six football stars from the Haskell Indian School in Kansas, where he had once played with the great Jim Thorpe and later coached for four years. The recruits included “Chief” Larry Johnson, Louis “Rabbit” Weller, and John Orien Crow. The charismatic coach told his players to pose with war paint, feathers, and full headdresses before the 1933 home opener against the Giants.

Where to start? Let’s do them in the order they appear:

1. Dietz recruited six football stars from Haskell

I’ve read this elsewhere but can only verify that he brought four former Haskell students with him—the three Richman listed plus David Ward.

2. …from Haskell Indian School in Kansas…

They came from Haskell Institute (today’s Haskell Indian Nations University) in Lawrence, KS not Haskell Indian School.

3. …where he [Dietz] once played

There is no record of Dietz ever enrolling at Haskell Institute or playing on their football team. He did coach there from 1929 to 1932.

4. …where he [Dietz] once played with the great Jim Thorpe

Lone Star Dietz played with Jim Thorpe at Carlisle not Haskell.

Jim Thorpe attended Haskell Institute before attending Carlisle but did not play on the school’s football team.

What is discouraging is that the author is a veteran journalist and should know that he should have checked his facts. It would have taken him little time to find these errors had he just consulted my biography of Lone Star Dietz and Bob Wheeler’s biography of Jim Thorpe. It is no surprise that yet another journalist has made less than accurate statements about Jim Thorpe and Carlisle Indian School, but it is unfortunate because most readers accept that the author has his facts right and don’t check for themselves.